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Horvat: For Those Who Died Trying

Mivos Quartet (ATMA)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Horvat For Those Who Died Trying – The Thailand HRDs
Mivos Quartet
ATMA Classique ACD2 2788   69:56 mins


Born in 1974, Frank Horvat is a multi-genre Canadian composer whose music reflects a longstanding commitment to social justice. For Those Who Died Trying is the title of a photo essay by photographer Luke Duggleby which documents the murder or abduction of 35 Thai Human Rights Defenders over the past 20 years, inspiring Horvat’s string quartet, The Thailand HRDs. Performed with intensity and poise by the Mivos Quartet, the work mirrors Duggleby’s procedure whereby a portrait of each individual or pair of HRDs was photographed at the exact site of their shooting or kidnap: in 35 through-composed vignettes of approximately two minutes’ length, Horvat creates musical portraits in kind, each utilising pitches taken from the letters of the victim’s name.

The resulting tributes are poignant in their simplicity. Regardless of limited material – No. 5, for instance, to Boonsom Nimnoi, comprises chugging unisons and octaves – the emotional range is surprisingly broad, spanning melancholy, defiance and even whimsy in conveying a sense of the profound courage shown by ordinary people in the face of existential threat. Most chillingly, the open-ended nature of the quartet-as-roll-call points to ongoing such atrocities in Thailand and elsewhere around the world.


Steph Power