Sandro Botticelli

Diaphanous Diaphony

Solo 4:30


Diaphanous Diaphony was composed in May 2021 in Lincolnshire, IL for Matt Haimovitz’s Primavera Project – a project spanning 81 compositions, all inspired by Charlene von Heyl’s reimagining of Sandro Botticelli’s monumental painting “Primavera.” More information on the project can be found at

The piece was released on Pentatone Records in June, 2022. Buy or listen here.

Diaphanous Diaphony reconceives the dance of the Graces in Boticelli’s Primavera with attention to the kinetic features of their physicality, emotion, and environment. In Primavera, the Graces’ expressions are earnest, almost solemn. Nevertheless, their dance is light and buoyant, embodied in the fabric of their dresses, which are often described as “diaphanous,” meaning light, delicate and translucent. In my piece, a cello technique called “natural harmonics” reflects this ideal of the “diaphanous”, as it correspondingly produces pure, high tones of a translucent quality. The cellist infuses this contemporary playing technique, embodying the “diaphanous” into a texture known as Diaphony: a historic, two-part compositional style, which would have been familiar to composers of Botticelli’s time. The infusion of the contemporary into Renaissance forms also characterizes Charline von Hehyl’s reimagining of the Graces in Primavera 2020, which features the Graces outlined and obscured by the same brush strokes, offering a vision in which art overcomes the boundaries of the bodily, the earthly. Similarly, my imagined dance demands of the cellist what I imagine is demanded of earthly dancers: virtuosic viscerality, in service of spirited sprightliness.

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