Olivia De Prato: STREYA


Violinist Olivia De Prato (Mivos Quartet) releases this wide ranging release of music for solo violin and violin and electronics. Included are works by a broad cross section of some of the most versatile and interesting composers active today: Reiko Füting, Missy Mazzoli, Taylor Brook, Ned Rothenberg, Victor Lowrie, and Samson Young.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 45:04
03Percorso insolito
Percorso insolito
06Vespers for Violin
Vespers for Violin

Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato has been an active performer in New York City’s contemporary music community since moving there in 2005. As a member of critically acclaimed ensembles, the Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Signal, and Victoire, De Prato has been invoved in commissioning, premiering, and recording countless new compositions, with a range of figures spanning the diverse landscape of new music. STREYA is a document of some of that work, with a program of six beguiling pieces by figures from Manhattan School of Music composition department member Reiko Füting to avant-garde improviser extraordinaire Ned Rothenberg to Mannes School of Music faculty and composer/songwriter/bandleader Missy Mazzoli. The works and performances herein display De Prato’s versatility as well as the flexible reach of programming in today’s New York concert community. Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo deftly merges extended timbres on the violin with electronics that mine a vocabulary that places the listener in a futuristic technological landscape. As the work opens we hear the violin struggling to come out of its cocoon so to speak, as its sound endeavors to fully project past self-imposed restrictions. Lowrie’s Streya contains some of the most conventionally violinistic music on the recording. Lowrie is De Prato’s viola partner in Mivos, and her husband, and displays his versatility as a composer with this music, in turns reminiscent of the solo violin music of Bartok and Ysaye while also exploring more fragile territory evocative of Sciarrino. Ned Rothenberg leans on his background as a free jazz clarinetist to generate a through composed piece that retains a sense of spontaneity. In his liner note, Rothenberg desribes the piece as akin to a short hike that extends itself into various new directions. The excursion that initially was intended to be a short walk has turned into something more — an adventure. In Wane, Taylor Brook takes advantage of multi-tracking possibilities by embellishing a lead violin part with four additional pre-recorded “shadow” violins, all tuned slightly differently (and all recorded by De Prato). When played together, an effect of what Brook calls an “amalgamated glissando” can be heard, coloring the primary violin in an unsettling halo of pitch. As the violin writing becomes more dense and virtuosic, one finds themselves in a disconcerting sonic hall of mirrors. Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz is based on an analysis of Bach’s towering Chaconne in D minor from the Second Partita for unaccompanied violin. The analysis, by German musicologist Helga Thoene posits that Bach integrated hidden chorale tunes into the harmonic fabric of this iconic piece. Füting’s title is inspired by a novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The presence of a work inspired by Bach’s canonic compositions for solo violin connects this collection to the long tradition of unaccompanied violin repertoire. Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin draws material from her larger ensemble work Vespers for a Dark Age. Sampled keyboards, organs, voices, and strings “drenched in delay and distortion” provide the pre-recorded accompaniment to the solo violin part. Slithering glissandi begin the work, interspersed with quick scale bursts. Despite the wealth of source materials from the earlier work, the new piece is an entirely distinct composition that demonstrates Mazzoli’s ease in navigating the worlds of experimental pop, indie classical, and corners in between. The work is an expansive coda to an album that casts a wide stylistic net through the prism of a treasured genre, works for solo violin.

- D. Lippel

  • Engineered by Jeffrey Svatek, EMPAC, Troy, NY (Tracks 1-4)
  • Engineered by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio, Mt. Vernon, NY (Tracks 5-6)
  • Mastered by Jeffrey Svatek
  • Produced by Olivia De Prato
  • Design and layout by Jessica Slaven

Olivia De Prato

Internationally recognized as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato has been described as “flamboyant ... convincing” (The New York Times) and an “enchanting violinist” (Messaggero Veneto, Italy). She has established herself as a passionate performer of contemporary and improvised music, breaking boundaries of the traditional violin repertoire and regularly performs in Europe, South America, China and the United States.

Her solo and chamber music activities include appearances at the Wien Modern Festival, la Biennale di Venezia, the Lucerne Festival,, the Ensemble Modern Festival, June in Buffalo, the Bang on a Can Festival, the Shanghai New Music Week, and Lincoln Center Festival with Steve Reich and Brad Lubman. In 2010 and 2011 she toured Europe and South Africa with Grammy-award winner Esperanza Spalding and the Chamber Music Society ensemble on violin and viola.

De Prato is a member of the new music ensemble Signal and ensemble XXI Jahundert and is the co-founder and first violinist of the Mivos Quartet founded in 2008, which focuses on the performance of contemporary string quartets.

As a guest artist, she has presented solo and chamber music masterclasses for young musicians and composers at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, UC San Diego, Princeton University, New York University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and internationally at Universidad Eafit (Colombia), Shanghai Conservatory (China), Universidad Salvador (Brazil), Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), and MIAM University (Turkey).

De Prato has collaborated closely with composers such as Pierre Boulez, Anthony Braxton, Chaya Czernowin, Peter Eötvös, Luca Francesconi, Beat Furrer, Dai Fujikura, Michael Gordon, Helmut Lachenman, David Lang, George Lewis, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Benedict Mason, Meredith Monk, Krystof Penderecki, Bernard Rands, Steve Reich, Ned Rothenberg, Julia Wolfe, and Georg Friedrich Haas. At the Lucerne Festival Academy 2007 she worked closely with composer Peter Eötvös on his new Violin Concerto “Seven” conducted by Pierre Boulez.

Her discography includes recordings on Tzadik, New Amsterdam Records, Sunnyside Records, New Focus Recordings, Mode, Cantaloupe, Porter Records, and Harmonia Mundi. In 2018 Olivia released her debut solo album “Streya” on New Focus recordings and one of the works was nominated for a grammy 2019.

In 2019 she received the Dwight und Ursula Mamlok Prize for ‘Interpretation of contemporary music' with the Mivos String Quartet.

Olivia De Prato studied at the University of Music and Arts in Vienna and received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Eastman School of Music. She received her Master of Music as a member of the first graduating class from the Contemporary Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music.

She is currently based in Vienna and New York City.


Samson Young

Composer Samson Young received his PhD in composition from Princeton University and his music has been presented at various festivals including Manchester International Festival (UK), Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt (Germany), Austin’s Fusebox Festival (Texas), and the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland).

Victor Lowrie

Victor Lowrie is a versatile violist, improviser and composer based in New York City. As a passionate advocate of new music, he has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and educator throughout the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. Victor is a founding member of the Mivos Quartet, and performs regularly with Ensemble Signal, Slee Sinfonietta and the Wet Ink Ensemble among others. He can be heard on recordings from Carrier, New Amsterdam, Kill Rock Stars, New Focus Recordings, and Tzadik Records. As a composer, Victor writes for soloists and chamber ensembles, combining a ever-evolving personal sense of melody and harmony with explorations into improvisation and electronics. He earned his Bachelor of Music performance from San Francisco State University, and was the inaugural graduating class of the Master in Contemporary Performance program from the Manhattan School of Music. Victor grew up on the idyllic central coast of California and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife Olivia and their son.

Ned Rothenberg

Composer/Performer Ned Rothenberg has been internationally acclaimed for both his solo and ensemble music, presented for the past 33 years on 5 continents. He performs primarily on alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and the shakuhachi - an endblown Japanese bamboo flute. His solo work utilizes an expanded palette of sonic language, creating a kind of personal idiom all its own. In an ensemble setting, he leads the trio Sync, with Jerome Harris, guitars and Samir Chatterjee, tabla, works with the Mivos string quartet playing his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and collaborates around the world with fellow improvisors. Recent recordings include this Quintet, The World of Odd Harmonics, Ryu Nashi (new music for shakuhachi), and Inner Diaspora, all on John Zorn's Tzadik label, as well as Live at Roulette with Evan Parker, and The Fell Clutch, on Rothenberg’s Animul label.

Taylor Brook

Taylor Brook has studied composition with Brian Cherney in Montreal, Luc Brewaeys in Brussels, and George Lewis, and Georg Haas in New York. Brook has also studied Hindustani musical performance in Kolkata, India, with Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya. His music is often concerned with finely-tuned microtonal sonorities and toying with multifarious musical references and styles.

Brook writes concert music, music for video, and music for theater and dance. His work has been performed around the world and has been described as “gripping” and “engrossing” by the New York Times. Brook has won numerous awards and prizes for his compositions, including the MIVOS/Kantor prize, the Lee Ettelson award, and several SOCAN young composers awards including the grand prize in 2016. Brook has been a finalist in the Gaudeamus prize and was awarded honorable mention for the Jules Leger prize two years in a row. His music has been performed by ensembles and soloists such as the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Quatour Bozzini, JACK Quartet, MIVOS quartet, Talea Ensemble, Ascolta Ensemble, and many others.

Brook's current projects include a new piece for New Thread Saxophone Quartet and a new string quartet for the JACK quartet. Brook holds a master’s degree in music composition from McGill University. He currently resides in New York City, where he is completing a doctorate in music composition at Columbia University and working as a freelance composer.

Reiko Füting

Reiko Füting was born in 1970 in Königs Wusterhausen in the German Democratic Republic. Füting has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, ensembles, and orchestras, with a special interest in vocal ensembles and ensembles performing on period instruments. His compositions are primarily released on the New Focus Recordings label in New York City and exclusively published by Verlag Neue Musik Berlin.

Since 2000, Füting has taught composition and theory at Manhattan School of Music, where he currently serves as Dean of Academic Core and Head of Composition. He has also taught vocal accompanying at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock and has served as a guest faculty and lecturer at universities and music conservatories throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Füting studied composition and piano at the Hochschule für Musik Dresden, Rice University in Houston, Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and Seoul National University. Some of his most influential teachers have been composers Jörg Herchet and Nils Vigeland, and pianist Winfried Apel.

“With my music, I aim to explore the psychological nature of memory, as it is projected onto the compositional device of musical quotation. By realizing this device in the entire musical spectrum of assimilation and dissimilation, integration, disintegration, and segregation, while moving freely between clear borders and gradual transitions, quotation and memory may function as a means to reflect upon contemporary artistic, cultural, social, and political phenomena.”


Missy Mazzoli

Missy Mazzoli was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out New York). Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, pianist Emanuel Ax, Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera, Cincinnati Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, JACK Quartet, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Kathleen Supové, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony and many others. Her second opera, Breaking the Waves, a collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, premiered to great acclaim in Philadelphia in September 2016 and as part of New York’s Prototype Festival in January 2017. The work was described as “among the best 21st-century operas yet” (Opera News), “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original” (Wall Street Journal), and “dark and daring” (New York Times). From 2012-2015 Missy was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera and Music Theatre-Group, and in 2011/12 was Composer/Educator in residence with the Albany Symphony. Missy was a visiting professor of music at New York University in 2013, and later that year joined the composition faculty at the Mannes College of Music, a division of the New School.

10 Dec, 2018

New Focus Titles on 2018 Year End Lists

We're always honored to see our albums make it onto year-end best of lists, and we'll compile all of them on this page as they come in. Sequenza21 - Best Instrumental and Recital CDs of 2018: Jacob Greenberg's "Hanging Gardens" with Tony Arnold and Josh Modney's "Engage" both made the list 5 Against 4 - Best Albums of 2018: Christopher Trapani's "Waterlines" made the list at #33 National …

Read More

07 Dec, 2018

Grammy Nominations for Du Yun/ICE and Missy Mazzoli/Olivia De Prato!

Congratulations to Du Yun and Missy Mazzoli on both being nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Classical Composition! Du Yun is nominated for Air Glow, performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, off her album "Dinosaur Scar" on the TUNDRA imprint Missy Mazzoli is nominated for Vespers for Violin, performed by Olivia De Prato, off De Prato's album …

Read More

21 Oct, 2018

New Focus titles on the 2018 Grammy Ballot

Several New Focus releases are listed under various categories on the 2018 Grammy's ballot. Voting for the first round is open now, and goes until October 31st. If you are a voting member, thank you for considering these recordings: TUN011: Du Yun: Dinosaur Scar Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance: #88 Best Contemporary Composition: #49 for Air …

Read More

05 Apr, 2018

NPR Classical's Deceptive Cadence features video from De Prato's "Streya"

A music video for a track from violinist Olivia De Prato's "Streya", Missy Mazzoli's Vespers for Violin was featured on on Deceptive Cadence, a program on NPR Classical, with a review from Tom Huizenga. "The music is less ambiguous, though deliciously disorienting in its own right. Mazzoli extracted strings, voices and organ sounds from her 2015 suite Vespers for a New Dark Age, suffused them …

Read More

04 Mar, 2018

Olivia De Prato "Streya" CD Release Event at Metropolis Space on 3.13

OLIVIA DE PRATO: STREYA ALBUM RELEASE CONCERTOlivia De Prato (co-founder and first violinist of the Mivos Quartet) performs works from her debut solo album, "Streya" This concert celebrates the March 2, 2018 release of Olivia De Prato’s debut solo album, Streya, on New Focus Recordings. De Prato will perform the album in its entirety, plus additional works by guest artist Missy Mazzoli, who …

Read More



New York Music Daily

“A Strikingly Accessible, Dynamic Solo Album from Mivos Quartet Violinist Olivia De Prato”

Olivia De Prato is a founding member of the perennially fearless Mivos Quartet and one of the most highly sought-after violinists in new music. Her technique is stunning: depending on the needs of a piece, she can deliver flash, nuance, lyricism or the kind of acidity that one often finds in the edgy kind of repertoire the quartet specializes in. And all of the above, as does throughout her new solo album “Streya”, streaming at New Focus Recordings. She’s playing the album release show on March 13 at 7:30 PM at the second-floor space at 1 Rivington St. at the corner of Bowery. Cover is $20.

The opening number, Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo gives De Prato a vast playground to air out her extended technique and effects pedals: crunching lows, enigmatic microtonal swoops, jarring scrapes, twinkly electronics, rhythm-shifting loops and subtle variations on a disarmingly simple central theme. You could call parts of this cello metal – although it’s not played on one.

The title track, a diptych by her Mivos Quartet bandmate, violist Victor Lowrie is a fragmented study in extreme dynamics: whispery harmonics, caustic close harmonies, brooding lyricism side by side with splashes of pizzicato and austere washes. Playing this to open the quartet’s show last month at the Miller Theatre, De Prato didn’t make it look easy, but clearly relished the challenge of Lowrie’s constant gear-shifting. The second half is calmer and disarmingly catchy.

Ned Rothenberg’s Percorso Insolito is a picturesque, shapeshifting pastorale that De Prato builds from a quasi-stroll to cheerily soaring flights as the sun lights up the hillside. Taylor Brook’s slow, methodically crescendoing, microtonally rich Wane is constructed out of cleverly assembled multitracks: what appear to be echoey, furtive glissandos are actually simultaneous smeared notes from the five individual voices, each in a different tuning. There’s more reverb on this piece than the others, amping up the wash of delicious overtones.

In its jaunty octaves and variations, Reiko Fueting’s Tanz.Tanz rather obliquely references both the chorale riffs woven into the famous Bach Chaconne, and also the Haruki Marakami novel Dance Dance Dance. The final piece is Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin, based on her intense, dramatic chamber work Vespers For a New Dark Age. But aside from the arresting, opening echo phrases, this electroacoustic work is considerably different, mournful motives leaping and lingering against a somber deep-space backdrop. Either De Prato is singing vocalese here, or she’s running her violin through a vocal patch. Spin this colorful mix for any curmudgeon who might dismiss avant garde music as shrill or pointless.

— delarue, New York Music Daily, 3.7.2018


An Earful

I’ve seen Olivia De Prato perform with Missy Mazzoli and she’s the kind of player that stands out in a crowd, dazzling with her utter command of even the most demanding techniques and the sheer expressive verve she puts into the music. Her work with the adventurous Mivos Quartet, which she founded, has also been exemplary. So, I was delighted when word of this solo debut came over the transom and even happier when I saw it was mostly world-premiere recordings of works written in the last decade.

The opening piece, Ageha.Tokyo, written by Samson Young, could hardly be more spectacular if fireworks shot out of my earbuds while it played. Starting with some tactile, serrated sounds, De Prato enters with defiant notes which gain momentum and then start to soar as the electronics begin rounding out and growing more melodic. The verse of My Favorite Things threatens to burst out but Young keeps it at bay and things are soon back on the aggressive side. Young named the work after one of the largest gay nightclubs in Tokyo and it doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine a beat-driven remix lighting up their dance floor. Young, based in Hong Kong, has a number of intriguing irons in the fire of electronic music and performance art and I’m grateful for this introduction to his world.

Streya by Victor Lowrie, who plays viola in the Mivos, finds us in more familiar terrain, with De Prato in an angular duet with herself. Circular phrases spin into the ether, replaced by harmonic whistles or sharp strums, as the piece moves toward the anguished romanticism of early Schoenberg. Percorso Insolito is described by Ned Rothenberg as “an adventure in rhythm, space and color,” and it also has a nice meandering, interior quality, like a train of thought that never quite resolves. I know Rothenberg’s work mainly via his earthy sax playing so this was a valuable glimpse of his other interests.

Taylor Brook’s Wane takes a smart idea - five multi-tracked violins, each in a slightly different tuning - and uses it to spin a kaleidoscopic tale in sound that has as many twists and turns as a good mystery. Rather than a bang-up finish where all is revealed, Brook prefers to leave questions unanswered with a woozy finish that shuffles uncertainly into silence. For more Brook check out the last Mivos album or the TAK Ensemble's Ecstatic Music, which focuses solely on his work. Tanz.Tanz by Reiko Füting is also based on an intellectual construct, in this case a study of the Chaconne from Bach’s D Minor Partita, but maybe only a musicologist would know that from listening. I hear a tightly constricted approach, both in the palette of notes and in the length of the lines, that intrigues due to all it leaves out. The premiere recording of Tanz.Tanz was by Miranda Cuckson on an album of Füting's work released in 2015 called “namesErased”, which I'm looking forward to investigating.

Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers For Violin closes the album and will undoubtedly leave you wanting more. A distant cousin of her stunning Vespers For A New Dark Age, it has Mazzoli’s characteristically assured electronic textures combined with an incantatory violin part that De Prato brings to life with, as everything here, her wondrous playing and total commitment to the visions of her collaborators. “Streya” is not only a fantastic debut for De Prato but also an object lesson in how to put together a solo violin record in 2018, from the selection of pieces, to the recording, and even to the artwork - kudos!

— Jeremy Shatan, An Earful, 3.17.2018


Beyond Criticism

Olivia de Prato, an Austro-Italian violinist based in Brooklyn, initiates her discography with Streya, an anthology of contemporary pieces by composers few but specialists will have heard of. According to a liner note by the composer Reiko Füting, the solo Tanz. Tanz derives from Bach's celebrate [sic] Ciaconna from the Violin Partita No. 5 in D minor. Though that baroque tour de force is something of a CoD signature piece, I couldn't detect no [sic] trace of it. But the catalogue of virtuosic effects—slashing, picking, buzzing, bouncing off the strings—is astounding, all the more so for the lightness and delicacy De Prato folds in to sections that simply explode.

— Matthew Gurewitsch, 3.27.18, Beyond Criticism


Deceptive Cadence -- NPR Classical

Vespers, the traditional late afternoon prayer service, gets an enigmatic twist in a new video by director James Darrah, premiered here, with music from Missy Mazzoli, performed by the spirited violinist Olivia De Prato. The track is from her new album, Streya.

The narrative, shot in slow-motion, opens with dancer Sam Shapiro's character, heavy with sleep, stirring on a sun-drenched morning. It mysteriously unfolds as a kind of barefoot vision quest in the Mojave Desert, progressing from morning to mid-day, from a flaming sunset to a nighttime bonfire, and finally back to daylight. In a final, inscrutable shot, Shapiro takes a drag from a cigarette and turns to the camera.

Could it all be just a dream?

The music is less ambiguous, though deliciously disorienting in its own right. Mazzoli extracted strings, voices and organ sounds from her 2015 suite Vespers for a New Dark Age, suffused them with a wash of electronics and fronted them with a soaring solo violin. De Prato — violinist for Mazzoli's band Victoire and co-founder of the Mivos Quartet — opens with a raspy thread of tone, emerging from a haze to shift between elastic, slithery scales and punchy flourishes, gradually reaching the upper register of her instrument while a scrim of ethereal voices wafts by.

Darrah, who directed Mazzoli's well-received 2017 opera Breaking the Waves, may have constructed his own cryptic vision of the traditional evening vespers — but in the music, there's no mistaking that De Prato and Mazzoli are out to dismantle it.

— Tom Huizenga, 4.3.2018, Deceptive Cadence, NPR Classical



{translated from German}

Who inserts this disc, gets it stuch in their head. In the hope that the reader will not be deterred from reading further by this entry, it may be added that it will continue in a different way, and that it will be exciting. The violinist Olivia De Prato has recorded six very different styles for violin solo, some with electronic feeds, for a quarter of an hour of modern sounds. In addition to the personal contact of the soloist with the composer, the latter unite that they each perform various art-related activities and have all references to non-European music traditions and process.

The first track, Ageha.Tokyo by Samson Young, is named after the Japanese word for the swallowtail (butterfly), but also after a gay club in Tokyo. It uses plenty of electronic feeds, which the reviewer generally does not favor in the music in which Pizzicato moves. Nevertheless, it is an exciting wild piece.

Streya by Victor Lowrie and the two following songs Percorso insolito by Ned Rothenberg and Wane by Taylor Brook were first created for this recording. A distant star, a surprisingly adventurous hike as well as sound effects from the playback of four further tapes of the soloist with minimal scored strings are the background of these pieces. Tanz.Tanz by Reiko Füting sets to music the analysis of Helga Thoene on the chaconne from the Partita for violin solo by Bach. Vespers for violin was also supplemented with electronic tones by Missy Mazzoli and is the complete remake of Vespers for a New Dark Age.

Of course you have to like this kind of music, the oldest of which is just ten years old. But when the ears are ready and the mind is awake, each work opens up new worlds and views - and suddenly you regret that the CD is already over. So listen again.

Olivia De Prato has taken on these compositions like a mother to her beloved children and has the technical and dramatic means to make these young music worlds rousing.

- Pizzicato, 4.24.2018



Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato's self-description as “a passionate advocate of new music” is amply borne out by the programme of her New Focus Recordings set Streya. On her debut solo disc, the Mivos Quartet first violinist performs works by six composers—Samson Young, Victor Lowrie, Ned Rothenberg, Taylor Brook, Reiko Füting, and Missy Mazzoli—positioned at the forefront of contemporary classical music practice; adding to the recording's appeal is that all but one of the settings are world premieres. Rothenberg's Percorso insolito, Lowrie's title piece, and Brook's Wane were written in 2016 expressly for the album, while Füting's tanz.tanz and Young's Ageha.Tokyo have had pride of place in De Prato's solo repertoire for a while; concluding the album is Mazzoli's Vespers in a new treatment derived from the original work written for Victoire, one of two other new music ensembles (Signal the other) of which De Prato is a member.

Being a solo recording, Streya naturally rises or falls on the strength of her performance, but she's more than up to the task. Each of the six pieces is executed with conviction, the violinist customizing her approach to satisfy the emotional and technical demands of the material and playing with gusto, audacity, and sensitivity throughout. And though it is a solo recording, the sonic palette is liberally expanded upon by the incorporation of electronics that in certain cases makes it sound as if other performers are sitting in with De Prato. The contrast that arises between the pure solo passages and those rendered more elaborate by electronic enhancements makes for a thoroughly engaging listen.

Certainly one of the bolder settings is Young's Ageha.Tokyo, whose panoramic vistas De Prato peppers with a bravura range of effects pedals-enhanced techniques. Aggressive scrapes, bowings, and swoops are scattered across a shimmering base of synthesizer-like sparkle and convulsive rumblings, all of it tailored around a central melodic motif that's both explicitly voiced and indirectly alluded to. Microtonal sonorities distance Brook's ten-minute Wane from the other pieces, as do electronic treatments that see echo-drenched glissandi generated by five multi-tracked violins, each in a different tuning, rippling alongside one another. The violins express individual phrases but also gather to form sawing, crescendoing masses, the work's trajectory unpredictable and the overall effect transfixing.

On the solo performance front, the austere title piece, composed by De Prato's Mivos Quartet colleague, violist Victor Lowrie, finds the violinist deploying a plethora of techniques to bring its ponderous world into being; pizzicato, double-stops, and hushed harmonics surface during a nine-minute performance that alternates between soothing lyricism and caustic angularity. Rothenberg's explorative, pastorale-like Percorso insolito exudes a peacefulness redolent of the composer's study of Japanese shakuhachi honkyoku music, whereas Füting's impish tanz.tanz coyly references Bach's Chaconne whilst also drawing for inspiration from the Haruki Marakami novel Dance Dance Dance.

If I've a favourite of the pieces, it's Mazzoli's Vespers, based on her dramatic chamber work Vespers For a New Dark Age. The NY-based composer's star has steadily risen over the past decade, a justifiable ascent that culminated in the acclaim her second opera Breaking the Waves (a collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek) received during recent performances in Philadelphia and New York. Though only five minutes long, De Prato's electroacoustic rendering of Vespers proves intensely haunting, especially when its gracefully swooping lines are shadowed by ethereal choral voices and undergirded by a thrumming textural mass. It's difficult to determine whether it's De Prato's performance or Mazzoli's composition that's the more remarkable, though more likely it's an equal match in this instance.

Ron Schepper, textura, 4.2018


The Whole Note

For her debut solo CD Streya (New Focus Recordings FCR193 newfocusrecordings.com) Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato chose to record works by six composers with whom she has worked closely since her move to New York in 2005. Victor Lowrie’s title track is one of three works that were written specifically for this project, Ned Rothenberg’s Percorso insolito

and Canadian Taylor Brook’s Wane for five multi-tracked violins being the others. Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo, written for De Prato in 2008, opens the disc, with Reiko Füting’s Tanz.

Tanz and Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin (amplified with electronics) the final two tracks. All except the Füting are world-premiere recordings. Fans of contemporary solo violin music will find plenty here of interest, with De Prato’s excellent playing certainly making the best possible case for the works.

— Terry Robbins, The Whole Note, 5.2018


Avant Music News

“Streya” is the debut solo album of Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato, now resident in New York. De Prato specializes in contemporary composed music as well as improvisation; in addition, she is co-founder of the Mivos Quartet, a chamber ensemble that also specializes in performing contemporary work. For “Streya”, she has assembled six new pieces for violin alone or with electronics, four of which were written specifically for her.

One of the four is Streya. The piece was originally composed in 2010 for De Prato by Victor Lowrie, the Mivos Quartet’s violist; the version recorded here was expanded in 2016 for the recording. Although it draws—moderately—on modern techniques of juxtaposition and disruption, Streya retains a lyrical continuity underscored by a dramatic use of dynamics. De Prato’s interpretation vivdly brings out the piece’s sense of proportion and balance. Ned Rothenberg’s Percorso insolito (“extraordinary path”) of 2016, which like Streya is a kind of contemporary counterpart to the Baroque solo violin sonata, is a cleanly played, linear piece that ranges up and down the instrument’s compass. Taylor Brook’s Wane (2016) also exploits the violin’s range, but in a different way. The multitracked piece builds layers out of five violin parts, each with a different tuning. The composite sound is of rising and falling glissandi embellished by imploring, vocal-like ornaments. Missy Mazzoli’s 2014 Vespers for Violin also uses recorded material, this time samples from the performance of her Vespers for a New Dark Age, as a sonic scrim against which De Prato projects her own part. This atmospheric piece features some of the rich, enveloping timbres of electronic ambient music and provides a lush contrast to the more austere works that precede it.

“Streya” also includes Samson Young’s electroacoustic Ageha.Tokyo (2008), and Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz (2010) for solo violin.

— Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News, 5.14.2018


New York Music Daily

Casually Spectacular Violinist Olivia De Prato Closes Out This Year’s Concert Series at the Miller Theatre

This year’s beguiling series of free early-evening concerts of new and mostly-new concert music at the Miller Theatre at 116th and Broadway comes to a triumphant close this coming June 12 at 6 PM with Olivia De Prato, the unselfconsciously brilliant first violinist of the fearless Mivos Quartet. She’ll be playing solo and duo works as well as leading an all-violin string quartet. That’s a typical move for an artist who doesn’t sit still and doesn’t seem to want to turn down a challenge.

De Prato’s debut solo album, “Streya”, which came out earlier this year, is as a remarkably accessible as it is daunting to play. Yet De Prato seemed to relish getting the chance to tackle its sharply contrasting nuts and bolts at her album release show this past spring, upstairs at the Momenta Quartet’s [sic] Rivington Street second-floor hotspot. She told the crowd beforehand that what she enjoyed the most about making the record is that it gave her the opportunity to capture every possible sound that can be coaxed or wrestled from a violin. Then she did exactly that over the course of more than an hour.

This wasn’t the first time she’d played the title track solo. At an earlier Miller Theatre show, she opened a Mivos program with its uneasy, jaggedly dancing mix of resonance, ghostly flitting motives and even more sepulchral harmonics, planting her feet with the determination of a ballplayer intent on launching a long drive deep into the stands. While the classical tradition calls for playing a piece in perfect sync with a composer’s intentions every time out, the reality is that the best classical players will feel a room and adjust accordingly, just as a smart jazz or rock musician will. In this intimate Lower East Side space, it was fascinating to watch De Prato back away from that tenacity and let the spectres of her husband Victor Lowrie’s work waft with considerably more whispery mystery.

Beyond daunting displays of extended technique – insistent percussive accents, endlessly shifting deep-snowstorm washes and acidically shivery overtones – she let the sheer tunefulness of the material speak for itself. A Ned Rothenberg pastorale circled and circled, tensely, before De Prato pushed up the roof and let in the sun – metaphorically speaking, anyway. She danced through the distantly baroque and then Asian inflections in a Reiko Fueting number before closing the show by inviting up the great Missy Mazzoli to join her on keyboards for a rare duo performance of Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin.

Based on her darkly meticulous, moodily clustering Vespers For a New Dark Age, this seemed more kinetically starry than the artfully overdubbed album version. For anyone who remembered Mazzoli’s magically articulate performances with her swirling chamber-rock band Victoire back in the late zeros, this was a fond look back at a time and place gone forever. Mazzoli’s chops are just as sharp now as then, and the push-pull between the instruments, contrasts between austerity and more hopeful, cascading phrases were brought into stark focus. It’s unlikely that Mazzoli will be part of the concert at the Miller on the 12th, but there will definitely be special guests, including Rothenberg on clarinet.

— delarue, New York Music Daily, 6.8.2018


Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review

Every day for me there is both new music and "New Music." Happily there never seems to be the least lack when I sift through for the worthy ones. Today there is something that has really caught my ear. It is an album of some six New Music compositions featuring Olivia De Prato on violin, featuring at times electronically enhanced violin and/or an independant electronics score. The album's name is Streya (New Focus Recordings FCR 193).

The first and most important thing about this album is the phenomenal way Ms. De Prato utilizes extended and more conventional techniques to create very convincing musical expressions on her violin. Whether it be a matter of transformative soundings from scrapes to double stopped glisses or with contrensic virtuosity and a kind of post-Bachian solo sublimity, Olivia De Prato gives us near breathtaking performances.

The six compositions all presume a single solo violin as the central fulcrum, then build on that premise by constructing wonderfully alive possibilities that Ms. De Prato takes well in hand and makes her own. The music when adopting the electronically enhanced violin choice makes the violin a thing out of concrete space and time to allow recurrences and synchronicities of violin self to violin self. Then of course for the works that configure the violin solo part alongside an electronics backdrop we can experience anything from chamber intimacy to near orchestral densities. Soundscapes are nearly always the result in the lush horizontal unfolding of tone and sound over time.

And in the course of the program we are treated to a single 5-10 minute work each from Samson Young, Victor Lowrie, Ned Rothenberg, Taylor Brook, Reiko Futing and Missy Mazzoli. Victor Lowrie's Streya deserves the slot of title cut. It is quite haunting.

What you get in the end is a very creative, intelligent, brilliant album of violin music at its most modern and advanced. Olivia De Prato is a wonder of the world, for those who appreciate the new in New Music and also for any lover of the violin well-played.

— Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, 5.25.2018


Bandcamp Daily

Violinist Olivia De Prato, a co-founder of Mivos Quartet, as well as a member of Signal and Victoire, steps out on her own with this diverse program of solo works. Samson Young’s visceral Ageha.Tokyo opens the record with strident double-stops and piercing, probing lines, adding biting melodic fragments and body to a surging electronic soundscape of club beats muddled and refracted. Other pieces are more programmatic and narrative; the title piece by Victor Lowrie (her husband and collaborator in Mivos), imagines the birth of a star or planet, with expectant bursts of energy and irregular lines of development, while Percorso Insolito, by the veteran reed improviser Ned Rothenberg, narrates an imaginary journey by the violinist herself. Taylor Brook’s spellbinding Wane enlists De Prato to overdub multiple parts in different tunings, generating a spectral richness with each element melting into one another, while Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz extrapolates a musicological analysis of Bach’s Chaconne into something harrowing yet energizing. Vespers for Violin, which she’s played in composer Missy Mazzoli’s Victoire, is an adaptation of the multipartite construction of Vespers for a New Dark Age, utterly reshaping it into a cinematic miniature rippling with drama.

— Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily, 4.2018


I Care If You Listen

Against a clean white background, vibrantly-technicolored, jaggedly-arranged rectangles and triangles form two mirrored waves. The radical juxtaposition of color and form leads the eye quickly along many different paths, generating depth from previously simple form and color. The cover art for Streya, created by Jessica Slaven, perfectly captures the playful yet precise spirit of violinist Olivia De Prato’s debut solo album.

Released in March 2018 through New Focus Recordings, Streya combines six works for solo violin from composers whose disciplinary backgrounds are as a diverse as its cover. De Prato brings a unique and authentic character to each performance, drawing from a career of experiences built upon a similar heterogeneity. Superb mastering and editing of acoustic and electronic material by Jeffrey Svatek heighten and clarify the stylistic particulars of each track.

The album opens with the noisy overpressure double stops and percussive electronic sounds of Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo. Young’s work is richly allusive, sonically referring to the dual meanings of its title: a swallowtail butterfly, and Tokyo’s largest gay night club. The electronic sounds shift from glamorous drones and delicate bells, to gritty noise descending to deep, pulsating bass beats. De Prato’s playing serves as a counterpoint, agilely moving in and out of each of these textures with floating melodies and complementary noisy effects. Enjoyable as a catchy “pop tune” or as a scintillating art work, this might just be the new music song of the summer.

While composing Streya, Victor Lowrie imagined observing the formation of giant celestial bodies, millions of light years away from Earth. Lowrie realizes this vision through subtle timbral and dynamic variations of repeated melodic gestures and harmonic structures. His writing demonstrates a familiarity with both instrument and player, showcasing the explosive power and delicate subtly of De Prato’s technique. The intimate and exacting recording quality renders each phrase in high contrast against a stark, minimally reverberant space.

Ned Rothenberg’s etude Percorso Insolito depicts a colorful journey of an imaginary De Prato hiking through an idyllic, yet subtly fantastical countryside. The adventurous and winding musical narrative draws upon Rothenberg’s own improvisatory style as a multi-instrumentalist. De Prato’s keen sense of phrasing guides the listener through Percorso insolito’s opening angular melodic lines, her pacing increasingly heightening a sense of wandering and discovery. Along the way, the introduction of double stops, soaring harmonics, and resonant pizzicato to the milieu allude to increasingly interesting terrain filled with lush foliage. Reaching the peak of a climb, De Prato briefly dazzles using all of these techniques simultaneously. This moment lasts but an instant. The previously covered musical ground is retraced, ending the journey quietly as it began.

Wane, by Taylor Brook, begins with a series of entrancing melodic phrases played by a single solo violin. All of the sudden, this voice is joined by four pre-recorded violin parts, each tuned at a slightly lower microtonal tuning. Punctuated by returns to this opening solo texture, the ten-minute work moves through a number of increasingly dense, undulating, microtonal textures, which creates a pleasantly disorienting effect as the ear struggles to account for the number of voices playing. De Prato expressively navigates the dizzying and captivating work in a manner which feels almost improvised, a testament to her interpretation and Brook’s composition.

Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz pays homage to Haruki Murakami’s novel Dansu Dansu Dansu as well as Chorale tunes discovered by Helga Thoene in J.S. Bach’s Chaconne in D minor. Combining echoes of Bach’s formal structures with a surreal timbral language inspired by Murakimi’s novel, Füting’s work is a more overtly intellectual exploration. Motives ornamented in a style reminiscent of traditional Japanese Kokyu are methodically developed in timbre and dynamic. De Prato’s interpretation delivers the essence of this synthesized style through a now familiar attention to detail and intelligent as well as nimble elegance in phrasing.

Closing out the album, Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin reimagines an earlier electroacoustic work, Vespers for a New Dark Age. The new work for solo violin and electronics has a cinematic quality, which evokes a sense of time and space suggested by its title. The electronic part creates a vast soundscape comprised of expansive organ samples, punctuated by wispy vocal and bell sounds. Against this backdrop, De Prato’s sensitive playing gently emerges with a combination of soaring melodies and shorter motives that fade away into the billowing electronic texture. In the context of the whole album, Vespers serves as a reflective moment at the end of an energetic and eclectic journey.

Streya is musically artistically vibrant, and showcases De Prato’s diverse conception of new music. Like its cover art, the album as a whole is pleasantly accessible at first pass. However, to those willing to listen with curious ears, Streya remains satisfying, fresh, and rewarding in depth upon subsequent informed hearings.


The Arts Desk

Combining acoustic instruments with electronics is a dark art, and tantalisingly few details about the process are revealed in the sleeve notes to violinist Olivia De Prato’s recital disc. Are the electronics taped or generated live? How is De Prato experiencing them? And how are the sounds notated, if at all? We're not told. Three electro-acoustic pieces are included here. Most immediate is Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin, a deep, warm bath of sound which sets solo violin against a backdrop of sampled keyboards, vocals and wheezy organs. The two elements are convincingly conjoined, a hesitant start swelling to ecstatic heights before a sumptuous fade. Lovely stuff. Intriguing if less euphonious is Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo, the pulsating accompaniment presumably evoking the Tokyo nightclub the work is named after. Taylor Brook’s Wane has De Prato shadowed by a quartet of her prerecorded selves, each tuned slightly differently. It's technically impressive, if unsettling.

Victor Lowrie’s Streya is an angular, explosive attempt to portray the birth of a star, and Percorso Insolito by Ned Rothenberg is an engaging depiction of De Prato traversing a hilly landscape. Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz is based on the closing movement of Bach's D minor Partita, a shimmering, elusive delight. De Prato's confidence brings this challenging repertoire to colourful life, and production values are superb.


An Earful: Best of 2018 So Far

Like Michael Nicolas's cello album Transitions from 2016, De Prato's solo debut is as perfect an exemplar of a modern single-instrument album as you're going to hear. Flawlessly played and curated, Streya is an unforgettable journey through the sonic possibilities of the violin.

-Jeremy Shatan, 7.4.2018, An Earful


Audiophile Audition

Olivia De Prato’s solo violin outing, the 45-minute Streya, is unconventional, idiosyncratic and eclectic. De Prato has previously been a member of John Zorn’s Arcana Orchestra (see 2014’s Fragmentations, Prayers and Interjections). That little bit of musical history should give listeners an idea of what to expect on the six generally avant-garde tracks on Streya, which were written by separate composers over several years. The works—which run in length from five to ten minutes—are influenced by the LGBT community; interstellar occurrences; a dream-like hiking adventure; Bach; and particular prayer services. There is a wide tonal range on Streya, and although only De Prato is heard, she strays from solo violin and at times uses overdubbing, multi-tracking and various electronics to bring to life the multi-dimensional material.

De Prato commences with Samson Young’s intense, futuristic Ageha.Tokyo, which fuses overdubbed solo violin with extended electronics, including liquid sounds, staccato digital effects and other noises. De Prato’s violin is often dissonant and strident, as if trying to echo a besieged personality or an aggressive altercation. “Ageha” is Japanese for “swallowtail butterfly” but in the CD liner notes Young points out the word is also the name of Tokyo’s largest gay nightclub. The liner notes supply yet another indication of the tune’s forceful nature with the inclusion of a Japanese poem entitled, “Slow Vomit (In Tokyo).”

The nearly nine-minute title track—penned by Brooklyn-based Victor Lowrie—combines sweet and heated harmonic and melodic segments. Here, De Prato switches strictly to solo violin and there is much space to showcase her instrument’s timbre, tonality and natural reverberation. Lowrie mentions in the liner notes writing this music “conjured up an image of a star or planet being born, with tremendous energy and violence, viewed from millions of light years away.” Indeed, there is a sense of galactic intensity which emanates throughout “Streya.”

The most overtly classical number is Ned Rothenberg’s seven-minute Percorso insolito [Spanish to English translation: “Unusual path”]. Rothenberg (a NYC denizen) has worked with Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker and others who have pushed music into new areas. The explorative Percorso insolito has earthier inspirations, specifically Rothenberg’s daydream about De Prato hiking through a hilly landscape where a simple path takes different directions and the terrain displays changing colors and textures; and the progress is constant but at times uneven. De Prato’s solo violin mirrors Rothenberg’s imaginative thoughts. The longest composition is Taylor Brook’s Wane, which Brook composed especially for multi-tracked violin performed by the same musician. Thus, De Prato is the lead violin and augments herself with four overdubbed violins which ‘shadow’ the main violin. The result is a distinctive violin quintet with music which stretches from masterfully melodic to a maelstrom of strings. The most clearly classical influence is heard on Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz [German to English: “Dance, Dance”], which is fashioned on an analysis of Bach’s “Chaconne” by German musicologist Helga Thoene. Füting reveals in the liner notes Bach’s choral tunes “are woven into the texture of this unique closing statement of the D Minor Partita [and] form the original material of my composition.” The composition’s title also refers to Japanese novelist Haruki Marukami’s book Dance Dance Dance. Ironically, the nine-minute Tanz.Tanz is not a dance tune but rather a neo-classical piece with precisely rendered movements and pacing but is not highly rhythmic per se.

De Prato concludes as she starts, with another five-minute tune, Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin, which Mazzoli wrote expressly for amplified violin and electronics. Mazzoli states in the album liner notes this composition began as a reimagining of 2015’s Vespers for a New Dark Age, where Mazzoli took a longer suite which used keyboards, vintage organs, voices and strings and reconstructed it so a single violinist could perform the music with overdubs and multi-tracking. The outcome is a compendious but also broad performance which has the feel of a mini-orchestra. Vespers for Violin has a cinematic quality which evokes Vangelis’ Bladerunner soundtrack or Peter Gabriel’s Passion (Music from The Last Temptation of Christ). Streya employ a heterogeneous, often non-Western approach to musical tradition and creation and is not for all tastes. Some will find Streya fascinating and instructive. Others may not enjoy the diverse, outside-of-the-box musical perspectives.

-Doug Simpson, 10.4.18, Audiophile Audition


MusicWeb International

Streya is a six-composer album of works for solo violin, or violin and electronics. Each of the six has worked closely with Olivia De Prato since she moved to New York in 2005 and consequently much is hot off the compositional press.

Samson Young’s Ageha.Tokyo dates from 2008. In the brief notes – all the composers write briefly about their music - he mentions that Ageha is Japanese for ‘swallowtail butterfly’ and is also the name of a gay nightclub in Tokyo but he also appends a poem called Slow Vomit (in Tokyo) - which sounds undesirable. There are disco thuds and razory violinistics in this five-minute piece as well as more welcome moments of ecstatic writing. This electroacoustic opener is a clubby one and assuredly more bar than butterfly. After which the pulsing dynamics of Victor Lowrie’s Streya, the title track, come as a strong contrast. There is a cosmic evocation at work here, and canny use of pizzicati and dynamic variance gives the music verticality as well as solidity and colour. Drawing on traditional techniques this well-structured piece conveys a sense of struggle and of development impeded.

There are baroque elements at work in Ned Rothenberg’s Percorso Insolito where the music’s irregular movement has an almost improvisatory sense of flux and fluidity. Rothenberg is a multi-instrumentalist and his music here is purposeful and clever. Taylor Brook goes in for multi-tracking in Wane; five violins in all, a lead and four shadowing ones. There are plenty of glissando effects and there are points where this sounds like tuning up, though oddly there are also folkloric impressions too. The layering and diverging are the focal features of Wane.

For a more overt evocation however of folk and indeed chorale themes one must turn to Reiko Füting’s Tanz.Tanz. The piece is based on an analysis of Bach’s Chaconne carried out by Helga Thorne, who uncovered a number of chorale themes. Fragmentary though these can be and ghostly though the motifs sometimes remain this is a strongly constructed solo violin piece. Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin, composed in 2014, is cast for amplified violin and electronics. It’s a ‘reimagining’ of her Vespers for a New Dark Age, which she sampled and reworked into this solo piece though it has a perfectly independent life. This is the most approachable work of the six, and is both warm and quietly mystical, a rather beautiful compact work that shows once more why Mazzoli is so admired a contemporary composer.

Olivia De Prato continues the good work on behalf of cutting-edge contemporary music for the violin. She is a fearless and sensitive performer.

-Jonathan Woolf, 5.7.19, MusicWeb International

Related Albums