David Danel : Elia Koussa, a sensitive mature composer

David Danel, a violinist of Prague Philharmonic and teacher at the University of Ostrava, shared his view/opinion on Elia Koussa’s music and the piece Shdrfh that he played in Prague in summer 2017 :

I value the work of Elia Koussa deeply. For me, his music (as far as I know it) is a perfect example of work of a mature composer who strove and searched for deeply and managed to achieve his own authentic musical style and language. It is a well balanced blend of modern, avant-garde thinking rooted in and inspired by a vast heritage and deep tradition of Lebanese, Middle-East, Arabic music system.

In each piece of Elia, I sense a very sensitive personality aware of the times he was given to live in, as well as a grateful man not rejecting the values and echoes of the past. His thinking is in a good sense (far from a kitch) very musical, yet always striving for complexity, perfection and honesty. No avant-garde clichés nor cheap post-modern effects to be found here. Deeply personal, deeply spiritual (meaning: always searching, open and asking questions), always well crafted instrumentally.

For me, the struggle with the piece Shdrf lies in the complex micro-tonality (difficult for the Middle-European) Elia Koussa is exploring (or using) and also in shaping and connecting many small musical/motivic threads he is weaving throughout the whole piece and presenting it in a wholesome way. With this piece I was and still am being challenged and I want to perform it also at other festivals or venues to bring it to perfection and to learn about the listeners’ perception of Shadrafah.

In the world premiere at the festival of new music Forfest Kromeriz (Czech Republic, EU) the piece itself as well as being a part of whole violin recital had a very good feedback – I was made to come back to the stage (actually to the “front” of baroque rotunda) four times, give an encore and answer many questions from the public/listeners after the concert. I feel privileged to be the dedicatee of the piece and also to be able to premiere “Shdrf – sermon of the ex-statue” by Elia Koussa of Beirut, Lebanon.

Davide Danel

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