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«Reverse Bloom»

Reverse Bloom is the fourth album of American, New York-based violist-composer Jessica Pavone’s String Ensemble, now a trio featuring violinist-violist Abby Swidler (who joined the String Ensemble on its second album, Lost And Found, Astral Spirits, 2020) and Aimée Niemann (who joined the Ensemble on its third album, … Of Late, Astral Spirits, 2022). The album was recorded at EastSide Sound in Manhattan in October 2023.

The String Ensemble expands Pavone’s compositional ideas from her extensive solo viola work while incorporating recent research into the effects of sonic vibration on human physiology and emotional health. The ensemble focuses on slow-moving, long-tone practice and an interest in repetition, and sympathetic vibration.

Reverse Bloom offers four minimalist pieces where the violas and violins become one fragile and delicate, resonant string entity that searches for the most emotional vibration behind all vibrations. But this album also stresses a more somber, intense and tense tone and is not shy of exploring dark and even unsettling themes, as its title and self-titled, mournful opening piece suggest. Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn, who wrote the liner notes, observed this composition as «designed to represent a certain fear or acceptance of a painful fate». The following piece, «Three Trees», deepens even further these eerie and tense veins and lets the string instruments sketch an almost static sonic mist.

«Obstructed Current» surprises with its sudden shift to a playful, folk-like song in its introduction but soon the Ensemble returns to the minimalist and melancholic territories of the previous pieces and later keeps alternating between these contrasting veins. The closing piece «Embers Slumber» is the most emotional one in this arresting musical journey, with an intriguing and delicate usage of pizzicato and arco movements, and a brighter, hopeful spirit that overcomes the previous darker passages.

Eyal Hareuveni

Jessica Pavone (viola), Aimée Niemann (violin), Abby Swidler (violin, viola)