Zachary Gvirtzman - Fiabe di Mare

Workshop performance video

Fiabe di Mare, which translates to "Tales of the Sea", is a series of interlinked vignettes that is inspired by the storytelling of Italo Calvino from whose volume of collected traditional Italian stories the works title is borrowed. The piece flows in a dreamlike way as it explores different ways of approaching rhythmicity within the ensemble, canonic melodies and textural contrasts. The work situates itself in a context of tonal, quasi programmatic music.

Calvino spent several years collecting traditional stories from all around Italy, many of which would have been told as bedtime stories. Some of the most celebrated stories in his collection are the Fiabe di Mare, which feature characters who sets sail in search of adventure, enchanted creatures such as the crab-prince, mermaids and that sort of thing. Another aspect to the Sea-tales is the injunction to listen to what the Sea, and nature in general, has to tell us, a need which has never been so urgent.

In writing this piece I had in mind the younger audience which the stories are also aimed at. Technically, I was interested in playing simple textural/gestural elements in a way that would introduce variety dynamism. The opening rising pizzicato chords create a keyboard like texture while the uneven rhythms and pauses break up the flow, a bit like a series of waves. The middle section develops the melodicism of the first while at the same time the ensemble creates a driving rhythmic feel that culminates in a rising figure before dissolving into a more gentle, playful polyrhythm. An eerie moment of false harmonics, perhaps conjuring the presence of a mermaid or two, is followed by a reflective legato passage that returns us to the opening melody, this time in canon between the cello and viola and with a static accompaniment from the two violins.

Composer: Zachary Gvirtzman

Composer photo
Self Portrait by Zachary Gvirtzman

Zachary Gvirtzman is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from London whose output includes soundtracks for the multi award winning Kandinsky Theatre company, work for dancer and interactive projection performed at the Place, and soundtracks for various short films. He He is also leader/core member of several bands for which he writes and arranges in a range of styles from Jazz to East European Folk to Alternative Hip Hop. He has performed with Evan Parker, Seb Rochford, Martin Speake, Lore Lixenberg and Jarvis Cocker among others and has been a member of the F-IRE collective since 2011. Apart from music, Zac enjoys creative writing and has published several pieces in Different Skies magazine as well as foraging mushrooms, clowning and playing chess.


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Workshop video