Jessica Pavone: “Lull” for String Octet and Soloists
Composer and violist Jessica Pavone presents the in-person record release concert of Lull—a composition for string octet and soloists in four movements. Recorded during the pandemic year of 2020, the piece reflects a multifaceted experience of ‘stasis’—quietude and introspection sustained amidst tension and instability.
In the music, occasions of consonance and dissonance take turns occupying foreground and background: Lull’s harmonic consonance evokes a calmness with a temperament of cool neutrality; its stark moments of harmonic dissonance maintain a similar composure. The rhythmic pacing of Lull can be characterized in terms of landscapes: endless rolling waves, expansive monochrome desert, stars punctuating an empty dark sky…
Compositionally, the music is crafted at the finest line between notation and indeterminacy in a tightly controlled balance of structure and individual free choice. Each of the two soloist movements contain the highest degree of improvisation allowing for a greater insertion of ‘individuality within the larger collective framework.
Lull is manifest as an extension of Pavone’s solo viola practice which has origins in 2012. In this solo practice, Pavone deeply explores the impact and implications of long-tones and sustained resonances as well as repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration. In 2017, she established the J. Pavone String Ensemble—consisting of two violas and two violins; the octet of Lull is an outgrowth of this ensemble.
Like in much of Pavone’s music, the qualities of consonance and expansiveness prevail, a sonic environment in which the listener persists.