Yfat Soul Zisso: Hidden Elegy


This 7 minute piece was written for Xenia Pestova and I for one of the concerts in rarescale’s London series. Alto flute and piano is quite a difficult combination to handle, because of balance, and I also sometimes wonder if there’s something about the tone quality of the alto flute which means it somehow doesn’t resonate well with the piano – perhaps that’s just me. Soul is a young composer, currently studying for a PhD at Birmingham Conservatoire, and I think here she has handled the combination well in a bold, stark and emotionally charged work.

Soul makes widespread use of quartertones in the alto flute part, which sometimes create a kind of sourness against the piano, which is fitting here to the subject matter of the piece; Hidden Elegy explores the emotions associated with grief and the rawness of those emotions comes to the fore well in this kind of language. The music is also relatively lightly scored, with the piano often allowing plenty of space for the alto flute to come through. Rhythms are simple and repetitive, and the use of repeated quavers in contrast with moments of stillness helps to create the listener’s emotional journey. The loudest part of the piece bursts forward in a surge of energy, and then the stillness returns.

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