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Quaestiones Et Responsa
New Works for Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles


Composer: Alla Elana Cohen
Label: Ravello Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 23 August 2019

In celebration of her 30th anniversary of moving to America, Boston based composer Alla Cohen presents a double album of new works for chamber orchestra and chamber ensembles. A graduate of highest honours of the famed Moscow Conservatory, Cohen emigrated to the United States in 1989, first teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music, and for the last 15 years - as a Professor at Berklee College of Music...

Quaestiones Et Responsa: New Works for Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles is a sumptuous 2-disc album from Alla Elana Cohen (Red Lilies of Bells, Golden Lilies of Bells, White Lilies of Bells; Jupiter Duo). To my mind, this is easily her greatest collection to date. It's instantly accessible and there are so many intricate and memorable pieces that it's almost impossible to know where to start singing its praises. Each play through I've discovered a new favourite piece which I'd previously overlooked.

It's this relentless attack on the senses that makes this an album that you'll want to spend a great deal of time with in order to start appreciating its finer points.

The opening, six movement, 'Partita' is a traditional classical work which occasionally strays into modern compositional styles. The three part 'String Quartet - Three Tableau Noir' is s little more experimental, but again keeps itself grounded in traditional styles.

'Querying the Silence' for Oboe & Cello is a two-part piece which is where the heart of this album seems to be housed. 'Inner Temple' (Volume 2 Series 4) is a suspense laden piece in three parts, it's eerie, but becomes rather playful towards the end of its second movement.

'Prophecies' (series 2), over its four parts, shifts and changes, morphing from one thing into another. There's not a dull moment here. 'Querying the Silence' (Volume 1 Series 8), a quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano, is a more modern composition that delivers discordance and chaos in some parts, while offering harmony and beauty in others.

'Prophecies' (series 5) delivers more of what was unleashed in series 2. And finally 'Inner Temple' (Volume 2 Series 4) is a two part exploration of what feels like the composer's exploration of the human condition, attempting to drive the listener to ecstasy and agony in the space of its duration. Emotionally rewarding, yet mentally exhausting, this closes an incredibly diverse collection of pieces.

Track listing:

Disc One

for Chamber Orchestra in 6 Movements
01 - Movement I “Preamble”  (2:51)
02 - Movement II “Nightingale and Rose” (2:26)
03 - Movement III “Stumbling Sarabande”  (2:13)
04 - Movement IV “Crazy Courante”  (1:34)
05 - Movement V “Eclogue”  (2:05)
06 - Movement VI “Gigue”  (2:11)

String Quartet “Three Tableau Noir”
07 - Movement I  (3:48)
08 - Movement II (2:44)
09 - Movement III  (4:09)

“Querying the Silence”
Volume 1 Series 9 for Oboe & Cello in 2 Movements
10 - Movement I  (2:26)
11 - Movement II (4:21)

“Inner Temple”
Volume 2 Series 4 “Sacred Triptych” FOR CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
12 - Movement I  (3:58)
13 - Movement II (5:18)
14 - Movement III  (3:48)



Series 4 “Quaestiones et Responsa” for Chamber Orchestra in 4 Movements
01 - Movement I (2:10)
02 - Movement II (2:51)
03 - Movement III  (2:27)
04 - Movement IV (1:51)

Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano “Querying the Silence”
Volume 1 Series 8 in 3 Movements
05 - Movement I (3:11)
06 - Movement II (3:07)
07 - Movement III  (3:48)

Series 5 for Chamber Orchestra in 4 Movements
08 - Movement I (2:33)
09 - Movement II (1:39)
10 - Movement III  (2:06)
11 - Movement IV (2:25)

“Inner Temple”
Volume 2 Series 3 “Sacred Diptych” for Cello & Piano
12 - Movement I (6:20)
13 - Movement II (5:50)


Darren Rea

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