Romano Crivici (b.1953) is an Australian violinist, pianist, conductor and composer. A former violinist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the New England String Quartet, Crivici founded the Elektra String Quartet in 1993 to explore cross cultural art forms and stretch the limits of the string quartet form, in addition to commissioning and performing works by Australian composers.
Ebb & Flow contains three works that are, according to Crivici, “expressions of my psyche,” further describing the opening work as a product of “my connection to the vast Australian outback.” Flat Earth is a two-part piece for string quartet, didgeridoo and percussion. This exciting work features shifting rhythms, textures and musical mirages that weave around the didgeridoo with a palpable sense of drama. It’s followed by two five-movement String Quartets: No 4 (Undercurrents) is characterised by undulating ripples, strong melodic motifs and a finale featuring soaring, fragile solo violin. It’s intense, dark and quietly beautiful. Quartet No 5 (Gregorian Funk) stops short of actual funk but certainly swings.
Not surprisingly, the writing for strings is strong and the passionate performances precise, nuanced and assured, particularly from Crivici himself. The CD is beautifully recorded, with depth, presence and superb balance. Lovers of high-quality contemporary string writing will find plenty to enjoy.