The Unlearning is a collection of miniature songs for violin, cello and two voices inspired by the 'Disasters of War' etchings by Francisco Goya. I began composing these pieces in 2009 as a way to examine and reflect on the nature of violence and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recorded as a duo between myself and violinist / vocalist extraordinaire Carla Kihlstedt, these pieces were released on Tzadik's Oracle Series in September 2011. The album includes the recording talents of David Shuman, The Norman Conquest (recording and mixing), the photography of Heike Liss, and the outstanding work of the Tzadik team. This project has been supported by a Meet The Composer grant and Yaddo residency. ((listen))
Purchase this album at: tzadik.com
photos by Heike Liss and Matthias Bossi
"If I started on this album sceptical that it was another cute rejigging of classical string composition, I ended totally conviced by the sheer warmth and humanity of this project. ... So all we have is cello, violin and two voices. Wong has written 21 pieces inspired by Goya's Disasters of War etchings (1811) and the whole takes 43 minutes, so this is an album bursting with ideas and moving at a lick. ... Wong's writing is highly educated, but free of all academic stuffiness. She flits with a light touch between melodic and experimental modes, and has the rare compositional skill to leave enough space for her ideas to breathe. Likewise the two voices are natural, with individual character, but able to blend in blocks of folkish harmony. There's a feel of Bertolt Brecht hovering, as in titles like "Folksong For the Landless". Towards the end, "Candelhat" is an amazing, racing, three minute ballad leading to a further three minutes of glittering string texture: are those electric fans playing tabletop violins? Whatever, there's an openminded attitude going on."
- Clive Bell, The Wire, November 2011
"The Unlearning - a masterpiece exquisitely realized."
- Fred Frith, Henry Cow, Cosa Brava
"It is difficult not to remain enchanted by the 21 miniatures presented by Theresa Wong in her first solo outing."
- Massimo Ricci, Paris Transatlantic Magazine Winter 2011
"This is a great collection of songs with such original and magical sounds, rhythms and lyrics. They come to life in these performances between two outstanding artists equally at home singing and playing their instruments."
- Joan Jeanrenaud, composer, cellist, former member of the Kronos Quartet
Wire Magazine nov 2011 (UK)
Paris Transatlantic (France)