REVIEW: The WholeNote on PRIMAVERA IV the heart

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I was excited to find that the new Matt Haimovitz album The Primavera Project is based on a collaboration between two great works of art and 81 contemporary composers. The dynamic and athletic cellist’s latest release is number four in a cycle of six CDs; with his vast experience in contemporary and classical music, the cellist makes this major undertaking look easy. 

The two visual works in the spotlight are Botticelli’s Renaissance Primavera (c.1480) and contemporary artist Charline von Heyl’s triptych Primavera (2020). You could just dive into the CD with no reference at all, but I would recommend starting with the website accompaniment which displays the von Heyl painting and the accompanying map of the corresponding musical chapters: The Wind, The Rabbits, The Vessel and now the fourth in the collection, The Heart. Seeds of inspiration are sprinkled on von Heyl’s painting as live hyperlinks, which then open to each playlist. A stark contrast to the Botticelli version, Von Heyl notes “Kitsch is not ironic the way I use it. Kitsch, for me, means a raw emotion that is accessible to everybody, not just somebody who knows about art. That’s where kitsch comes from to begin with: it was basically art for the people.” (

Haimovitz tears into every nuance of colour from the compositions, and our journey takes on many of this decade’s greatest composers and musical storytellers. Each track references a particular motif notated in either painting. Justine Chen’s playful Iridescent Gest and Nina C. Young’s pentimento for solo cello and electronics are standouts, as are Tyshawn Sorey’s edgy and cinematic Three Graces and Canadian Vincent Ho’s jazz-inspired Blindfolded Cupid (which Haimovitz pulls off as if he wrote it). The album closes with Gordon Getty’s richly melodic miniature-sonata Winter Song.

Explore the website dedicated to the project. The creative and beautiful videos include visuals of von Heyl’s work on YouTube; they bring the artwork to life, anchoring the disc within the scope of the project. Haimovitz plays with an energetic and powerful core, and a dedication to each composition that only his stunning skills could match.

Listen to the album now!

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