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20/21 Kancheli: Styx; Gubaidulina: Viola Concerto /Bashmet


Release Date: 05/14/2002 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 471494   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giya KancheliSofia Gubaidulina
Performer:  Yuri Bashmet
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater OrchestraSt. Petersburg Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A brace of post­Soviet individualists allow Bashmet to shine with Gergiev’s support.

This is an audacious start for Yuri Bashmet’s new association with DG. Not that he is any stranger to the music of Kancheli. His pungently authentic recording of Mourned by the Wind (Melodiya‚ 6/98 – nla)‚ an earlier Kancheli score‚ in which he is accompanied by the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra under Dzansug Kakhidze‚ is a bona fide classic. Styx‚ like Gubaidulina’s new concerto‚ is‚ again‚ expressly designed for the technical and colouristic possibilities at his disposal. Some introduction may be helpful. Both these composers are rugged individualists from far­flung outposts of the old Soviet empire. Audibly Schnittke’s
Read more contemporaries‚ they ‘begin’ with Shostakovich but have gone on to reject the conventional narrative structures of Western art music through their preference for abrupt contrasts and silent spaces – a cinematic equivalent might be the empty landscapes of a Tarkovsky or a Zhang Yimou. Since leaving his native Georgia‚ Kancheli’s (always ‘tonal’) music has grown more approachable but less fresh. Styx deploys stock‚ sometimes crudely melodramatic gestures (a touch of Orff here‚ some US minimalism there)‚ so it is left to the composer’s trademark collisions of loud and soft to bestow originality on the proceedings. The montage is itself the message. It doesn’t help that Kancheli’s use of a sung text with solo viola evokes embarrassing memories of Tavener’s The Myrrh Bearer‚ also written for Bashmet‚ while its mumbo­jumbo nature brings us close to Karl Jenkins territory. The results are insufficiently rigorous to evoke the timelessness of death‚ though listenable enough. On this evidence‚ Gubaidulina remains not just the more ascetic figure‚ but‚ paradoxically‚ the more communicative of the two. Her sparse‚ fine­spun idiom is pieced together from a wider range of opposing‚ seemingly dichotomous elements: folk music and art music‚ the human and the divine‚ Ligeti and Shostakovich – on the one hand a volatile‚ unstable chromaticism and an obsession with the pitch­bending of single notes‚ on the other the reassurance of melody and traditional triadic harmonies. Apart from a scherzo element towards the end‚ the work is firmly focussed on the elegiac meditation of the soloist. Meanwhile‚ Gergiev’s orchestral players remain in the shadows‚ usually in their lowest registers. If that sounds less than compelling‚ there is at least the ‘hook’ of a recurring chant­like idea. One man’s ‘mesmerising’ is another man’s ‘boring’ so I won’t make any great claims. Except to say that it would be churlish not to welcome these unimpeachably authoritative readings. The acoustic of what we used to call the Kirov may be less than ideally matched to the wide­open spaces in the music‚ but DG’s stylish visuals and helpful notes complete a package shrewdly designed to reaffirm Bashmet’s status as the most charismatic violist performing today.

-- Gramophone [6/2002]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Styx by Giya Kancheli
Performer:  Yuri Bashmet (Viola)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater Orchestra,  St. Petersburg Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999 
Date of Recording: 07/2001 
Venue:  State Academic Mariinsky Theater, Russia 
Length: 34 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: Georgian 
2.
Concerto for Viola by Sofia Gubaidulina
Performer:  Yuri Bashmet (Viola)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2001 
Venue:  State Academic Mariinsky Theater, Russia 
Length: 35 Minutes 18 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Styx - for Viola, mixed choir and orchestra (1999)
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1996)

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