Glowicka – Seven Sonnets

Posted: 14 April 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , ,

ARTEksounds – ART003

Christopher Nosnibor

The extensive liner notes describe Glowicka’s latest release as an album 400 years in the making. This isn’t a literal statement, but a reflection on the evolution and reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s work over the course of the time since it was first written. It is, undoubtedly, testament to the way in which Shakespeare so adeptly tapped into the many facets of the human condition that his work still resonates today. In short, his work speaks through the ages and transcends time.

So what of Katarina Glowicka’s engagement with his sonnet cycle, first published in 1609 and the subject of intense debate in academic circles even now, long after a consensus has been reached over many of their deeper meanings? Seven Sonnets gathers two sessions from a decade apart, written and performed by Katarina Glowicka with Aaron Zlotnik and Rubens Quartet. Both combine string arrangements with Glowicka’s unconventional electronic soundscapes and quite remarkable vocals.

I’m not about to get bogged down in the technicalities of the sonnet form, the differences between the Petrarchan, Spencerian and Shakespearean sonnet here. Suffice it to say that a selection of Shakespeare’s 14-line verses provide the basis for the lyrical content of the pieces here, but musically, the compositions are far less strict.

‘Summers Day (1999) features three pieces, which are comparatively concise, but still manifest as quite organic, freeform musical works. ‘My eye hath played the painter’, drawing on Sonnet XXIV and Sonnet XXVII and grappling with a classic Elizabethan sonnet trope of the torment of love, is delicate, the trilling operatic vocal soaring heavenwards over minimalist strings.

The three pieces slide into one another, culminating in the dolorous ‘My love is strengthened’, on which the strings weep and wail, swoon and sway. Glowicka forges a rarefied spiritual atmosphere with her choral delivery.

The four ‘Spring’s day’ pieces are longer, with ‘When my love swears’ speaking of unconditional love over a fractured musical backing before the 10-minute ‘Love is too young’, which transitions through passages of soft ambience to pastoral strings laces with melancholy and flickers of dissonance.

‘Sweet love’ builds subtle drama, Glowicka skipping lightly through Sonnet LVI, before ‘All Naked’, a stripped-back audiowork which is spun around Sonnet XXVI concludes the album, leaving the listener feeling… how precisely does the listener feel? The power of any work lies not in the direct message it conveys, but in the way it resonates with each individual who engages with said work. Just as Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets stir different emotional responses in each person, connecting with different life experiences, so Glowicka’s Seven Sonnets is and album which does not require a critic to steer a particular line of engagement. It resonates on a uniquely personal, individual level.


Glowicka - Seven


Glowicka Online

  1. […] forges a rarefied spiritual atmosphere with her choral delivery. “ Christopher Nosnibor, Aural Aggravation “with extraordinary strength of conviction Glowicka manages to take us into the century of […]

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