Magazine article Gramophone

Silvestrov: Spectrums

Magazine article Gramophone

Silvestrov: Spectrums

Article excerpt

Silvestrov

Spectrums (a). Symphony No 2 (b). Cantata (1973) (c). Meditation (d). 'Farewell, O World ...!' (e)

(c) Nelly Lee sop (e) Yuri Olijnik bar (d) Valentin Potapov vc (a) Ensemble of Solosts of Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra; (b) Leningrad Chamber Orchestra; (c) Chamber Orchestra 'Perpetuum Mobile'; (d) Kiev Chamber Orchestra; (e) chamber ensemble/Igor Blazhkov

Wergo [F] WER6731-2 (76' * (abd) ADD/(ce) DDD) Recorded live (a)1965, (b) 1968, (d) 1976; recorded (c) 1983, (e) 1991

Especially in the first half of his career, Valentin Silvestrov was fond of calling all manner of music 'symphony'. In 1965 his Spectrums--described as a symphony in three movements for chamber orchestra--made quite a splash in Leningrad, and it is indeed a talented example of Nono-esque pointillism (Nono's visit to the Soviet Union in 1963 had been a highly significant catalyst for young composers there) with a colouristic sensitivity as befits the title. But a symphony in the sense of something greater than the sum of its parts? Hardly. No more so is the 11-minute numbered Second Symphony, from the same year and in the same style, for which the composer's own poetic description is perfectly adequate: 'a madrigal without words, through which a melodic wind blows'.

The longest work on the disc, the Meditation symphony for cello and chamber orchestra, is not only wholly unsymphonic by traditional lights but also hardly meditative (except, perhaps, in the sense of gradually moving from jaggedness to passivity); and, unless you were following a score or seeing a performance with the cello in concerto position, you would scarcely guess that there was a soloist involved at all. …

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