Clarissa Bevilacqua plays Augusta Read Thomas: Dream Catcher
“Clarissa Bevilacqua steps into the limelight in her debut album, as a musician of quite spectacular musicality, technical mastery and artistic vision.”
Rainbow Bridge to Paradise originated for cello and is heard here in its violin transcription. In many ways it is the simplest of all the works on the Dream Catcher album, with the image of a journey from earth to heaven by way of a colourful bridge rendered in sound as a slow, unhurried ascent across the violin's entire range. It is music of seraphic tranquillity, music that conveys the illusion of having all the time in the world and beyond, and all contained within the space of just four minutes. Paul Pellay, August 2022
Welcome to Dream Catcher, an album that journeys through ten unique compositions, ten bewitching stories that lead us away from the constant Rush of everyday lives. Before you dive in, I just wanted to take a beat to tell you a little bit about how this CD came to life, and to properly introduce you to the creator of the music you are about to hear - the one and only Augusta Read Thomas.
When you dedicate your life to an instrument as challenging and versatile as the violin, there is no shortage of repertoire from which to choose from; and yet, the vast majority of albums out there cater to a very specific, restricted niche of composers and their most well-known works. This can often give our somehow a stagnant, old-fashioned art-form, when in reality it is a constantly evolving organism, driven by thousands of inspiring and innovative creators. As a new artist in the industry myself, I feel a certain calling to break this pattern by championing and performing works that reflect our present instead of our past, and by striving to surprise my audiences with music that they can discover and even relate to. This debut album is my first of hopefully many projects that strive to achieve this, and it is also my reply to all those people who believe classical music is a thing of the past.
I met Augusta by total surprise about five years ago in Chicago, where I was performing a recital that included her “Capricious Toccata: Dandelion Sky”. It was the first time that I had had the opportunity to discuss a piece of music with the actual composer, and I became absolutely fascinated with the world of possibilities that such a dialogue can lead to. I instantly started to study other works of hers, and began programming them in several of my recitals throughout the years. The more I performed these pieces and became familiar with Augusta’s compositional style, the more I felt myself wanting to create something tangible and long-lasting with these works. And thus, at the beginning of the global pandemic a few years ago, the idea for this CD was born.
This album features Augusta’s complete works for solo violin, as well as the world premier recording of her Violin Concerto No. 3 “Juggler in Paradise”. Each and every piece has a different character and tells its own story, and these seemingly unrelated, abstract pieces of a puzzle come together during the course of the album to create a dream-like journey.
Before I leave you to experience this collection of poems, I would first like to express my infinite gratitude to all the people who made this dream of mine come true.
happy listening! Clarissa
This first recording by violinist Clarissa Bevilacqua shows her desire to introduce new music to the public. She wants to show that classical music is nothing just from the past. …Her (Augusta's) music is spirited, engaging and much focused. In other words, she knows how to express herself in small forms, which counteracts the shortcoming of unnecessarily rolling out a thought without being able to show meaningful developments. …The nine individual pieces, each lasting from two to six and a half minutes…The Third Violin Concerto is her most extensive work of this kind to date. And yet it is divided into five sections within the structure in one movement and lasts less than 18 minutes…Yet Reed Thomas knows how to always let the violin take the lead. She channels the many possibilities that arise from the instrumentation into small splinters and phrases. In doing so, she avoids covering up the solo instrument....Continue reading
Remy Franck's journal about classical music.
Bevilacqua’s performances in Dream Catcher reveal mature musicianship and an intimate knowledge of the program — a notable slice of contemporary classical music from the U.S. With a warm tone in the low register, her fluent shifting in dynamics adds emotional resonance, and her approach to phrasing flows engagingly between Thomas’ moodiness and sunnier temperaments. And that’s tough to pull off, for despite Thomas’ distinctive flair for unaccompanied violin — spanning 21 years from the plaintive sighs and whispers of Incantation (1995) to the solemn, dark-hued meditation of Rainbow Bridge to Paradise (2016) — there is a similar compositional approach to many of the works that lingers after repeated listens. Her material frequently develops organically from compact cells with a recurring uneven rhythm, undergirding the way she strings melodies together within a tonal framework. Stresses at the end of the melodic phrases create a slight lilt, which Bevilacqua accomplishes, adding a shimmer to the gliding motion of the music...Continue reading
I care if you listen - Esteban Meneses
Augusta Read Thomas likes performances of her music which convey the sense of a ‘captured improvisation’, and that’s as neat a way as any of summing up Clarissa Bevilacqua’s playing in this sequence of short solo pieces. Though essentially tonal, they do not so much explore or journey through harmonic landscapes as define and describe them. The keening clamour of Rush is followed by and contrasted with the introspection of Rhea Enchanted, where the double-stopping and multiple lines present the quixotic workings of a single mind – in this case, the mother of the ancient Greek gods.
Read Thomas draws her sources of inspiration from far and wide: a coffee shot for Rush, faint imprints of Native America in Dream Cathcher. Such eclectically informed curiosity lends a variety often missing from solo-violin albums. So, one infers, does a thorough understanding of the violin, because while each piece captures a single mood, the writing itself simulates Bevilacqua to dig deep into her reserves of expression for the searing confidence of Pulsar, the statuesque beauties of Venus EnchntedI and finally the luminously elevated play between violinist and large, percussion-heavy orchestra in the six brief movements of the ‘Juggler in Paradise’ concerto.
Peter Quantrill - The Stand