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Silvestrov: Bagatellen Und Serenaden / Poppen, Lubimov


Release Date: 09/18/2007 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 000966202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Valentin SilvestrovAlexei Lubimov
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SILVESTROV Bagatelles.1 Elegie.2 Stille Musik.3 Abschiedsserenade.2 Der Bote.2,3 2 Dialog mit Nachwort2,3 • Valentin Silvestrov (pn);1 Christoph Poppen, cond;2 Munich CO;2 Alexei Lubimov (pn)3 • ECM 000966202 (74:54)

One would never accuse Valentin Silvestrov of being a “light” composer, but this disc presents a side more tender, delicate, and yes, sweet than I’ve heard in previous releases. As already enumerated above, Silvestrov is a connoisseur of nostalgia, but not of sentimentality. He is fully aware of how painful love can be—whether for a person, music, or anything of beauty—because it is always paired with loss. And so all his music digs deep, and in the end projects a quiet despair at the hopelessness of the quest.
Read more The composer himself refers to such a stance as “weak,” but that’s only an index of fragility. The honesty of the approach strikes me as very courageous.

The most unusual part of the recording comes at the start. The 14 Bagatelles (2005) exist in a kind of limbo between improvisation and composition. ECM’s Manfred Eicher had noticed that Silvestrov would sit at the piano during breaks in recording sessions and play brief “moments musicaux”; he began to record them, and this set is the result. While not yet written, these pieces appear to be fully worked out and engraved in the composer’s memory and fingers (and probably sometime in the future they will be notated). Their sound is an unusual blend of late-19th-century tonal harmony with a slightly folkish, even jazzy tone. I’m not surprised that Eicher would have been taken with them, because they actually reminded me of quieter moments in the solo concerts of Keith Jarrett, another of the label’s staples.

The remaining works are for strings alone, or with piano. The 2000–02 Elegie is still and shivering, a memorial to Silvestrov’s fellow composer Ivan Karabitz. Stille Musik (also from 2002) is a present to Eicher, and positively drips with fin de siècle world-weariness. Its three movements are a slow and ever-fading waltz, a melancholy but lilting serenade, and a suitably elegiac finale. I find the piece truly haunting in the beauty of its melodies and the deeply sincere love it expresses. Abschiedsserenade (“Farewell Serenade,” 2003) is also dedicated to Karabitz, and in its two movements traverses a ghostly Mahlerian landscape (one can’t help but think of the Adagietto movement of the Fifth Symphony here and at other spots in this collection). Der Bote (“The Messenger,” 1996) is very much a “dream” of a piece, starting with rustling wind noises and then moving to a faintly heard Mozartean piece (Silvestrov’s own music, written in the “old style”), around which the strings create an aura that both amplifies and obscures the core. And finally, the Zwei Dialog mit Nachwort (“Two Dialogues with an Afterword,” 2001–02), dedicated to Silvestrov’s friend Arvo Pärt, is based on two historical fragments (followed by a postlude in the composer’s “own” voice). The first is a wedding march written by Schubert for a friend’s nuptial, though in fact it was never actually written down, but rather preserved by a family oral tradition until Richard Strauss transcribed it. The other is a fragment by Wagner embedded in his sketchbooks for both Tristan and Parsifal. In each case Silvestrov creates a silk-lined jewel case in the string accompaniment to the piano’s gem-like part in the Schubert movement. It’s impossible, and frankly unimportant, to know where the source ends and the re-arrangement begins; the point is the very seamlessness between the two.

ECM’s lush sound seems totally in the spirit of this music. Poppen, Lubimov, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra maintain the perfect blend of poise, refinement, and knowing naiveté. Overall, this is a disc I can come back to again and again.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Stille Musik by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs. 
2.
Bagatelles (13) for Piano by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Valentin Silvestrov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 31 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3.
Bagatelles (13) for Piano: no 2 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Valentin Silvestrov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Notes: Composer: Valentin Silvestrov. 
4.
Elegy for Strings by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Ukraine (2000 - 2002). 
5.
Abscheidsserenade by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
6.
Der Bote for Piano/Synthesizer and Strings by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 12 Secs. 
7.
Dialogues (2) with an Epilogue by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 02/2006 
Venue:  Church of the Ascension, Munich, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Ukraine (2001 - 2002). 

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