Zosha Di Castri
Tachitipo; String Quartet No. 1; The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, etc
Talea Ensemble; JACK Quartet; Julia Den Boer (piano); International Contemporary Ensemble, etc
New Focus Recordings FCR227 73:38 mins
We should not judge a book – or CD – by its cover, but Tachitipo, Zosha Di Castri’s debut album, deserves praise for its enticing artwork and neat folded-paper sleeve. The Canadian composer opened last year’s BBC Proms with Long Is the Journey, Short is the Memory for orchestra and chorus. Like that work, the titular piece here uses unorthodox instruments – in this case, an 1823 typewriter. Castri draws parallels between the often temporary and rarely creatively autonomous usage of both this machine and the piano by 19th- and 20th-century women. The typewriter is treated as part of the percussion section, a sensitive integration that means the additional timbre never feels tokenistic.
There’s much to explore in the other five pieces, performed by a variety of musicians across multiple locations. Pianist Julia Den Boer navigates the crisp contours of Dux (2017) with expertise, while the International Contemporary Ensemble evokes the mobile sculptures of Lee Bontecou and Alexander Calder in La forma dello spazio (2010). This work, which requires its performers to spread out around the room, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013) for voice and electronics both enjoy more impact in live performances.