American viola player Jessica Pavone loves to play long notes «because they feel good and they relax me». Pavone studied in recent years the work of Hans Jenny, a follower of the anthroposophical doctrine of Rudolf Steiner who published books entitled «Kymatic», investigating the subtle power of vibrations, on water bodies.
Pavone transformed these lessons to her newly founded J. Pavone String Ensemble, a quartet featuring two viola players – her and Joanna Mattrey and two violinists – Erica Dicker and Angela Morris. This ensemble attempts to explore the effects vibrating sounds have on our own bodies, than can be considered as water bodies, including the healing effects. The ensemble allows Pavone to expand her interest in long and repetitive tone practice, sympathetic vibration and the sheer physicality of playing, already explored on her recent solo viola albums «Knuckle Under» (Taiga, 2014), «Silent Spills and In the Action» (Relative Pitch, 2016, 2019) to her chamber, acoustic string quartet that she founded in 2017.
Pavone’s new compositions for this string ensemble highlight the physicality of the playing, almost tangible with its immediate power, and the perfect interplay of the ensemble. The opening piece «Hurt and Hurdle» brings to mind the strict, minimalist power of the early compositions of Philip Glass, still with no healing tones. The repetitive, long notes of «Lullaby and Goodnight» suggest an untimely resonant drone, patiently letting a more delicate, vibrating melody to surface from its rough shell. The highly vibrating title-piece deepens even further the out-of-time and in-deep-space atmosphere until you may feel embraced and even massaged by the tones and overtones of the strings instruments. «Sooner or Later» focuses on the tangible, physical aspects of a conflictual setting, eventually concluding with more peaceful interplay. The last «By and Large» emphasizes again the effects of long, vibrating notes, and letting these notes sketch a fragile melody.
I can not guarantee any lasting healing effects but Pavone knows how to re-calibrate our listening experiences to her challenging, and often quite gratifying, sonic aesthetics.
Jessica Pavone (viola), Joanna Mattrey (viola), Erica Dicker (vio), Angela Morris (vio)