Sarah J. Ritch - String Theory | Album review
Chicago composer Ritch steps out solo with electroacoustic cello thrills.
In 2010, local fiddler Aurelien Pederzoli performed the premiere of a new movement written by his wife, Sarah J. Ritch, at Roosevelt’s Ganz Hall. Played with moving sincerity and tender intimacy, the first movement of Sonata de Kinor was a highlight of that year. Pity that only a couple of dozen audience members heard it. Fortunately, Ritch recorded the gig and the work now serves as the emotional centerpiece on her debut album. She included the piece, she tells us, “because Aurelien sounds so friggin’ great.” She might be biased, but we are inclined to agree.
As cofounders of avant-garde ensemble Anaphora, Ritch and Pederzoli (also the violinist in Spektral Quartet) are a tour de force in the new-music scene. Ritch’s works often feature on Anaphora bills, and the 31-year-old has recently branched out with solo performances of her electronic compositions.
The five tracks on String Theory offer a brief overview into Ritch’s development as a composer and skillful manipulator of electronics and cello. Aside from the notated tonal music of Sonata de Kinor and the violin on “400g live,” played by Carmel Raz and captured at an Israeli festival, the three other tracks on the album are played by the composer herself. The free-form noise of the 14-minute Duo for Solo Cello explores the properties of strings, transforming an acoustic instrument into the crackling static of a Tesla coil. The epic “16 Days” constructs an astral starscape of eerie drones. String Theory beautifully captures the ongoing bloom of one of Chicago’s most daring young composers.
Stream or download the album for free at panyrosasdiscos.net.