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Leggiero, Pesante - Silvestrov / Valentin Silvestrov, Et Al

Release Date: 06/18/2002 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 461898   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Silke AvenhausAnja LechnerAndreas ReinerSimon Fordham,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rosamunde Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In the booklet note to this marvelous release of chamber music by Russian composer Valentin Silvestrov, he observes that "the most important lesson of the avant-garde was: to be free of all preconceived ideas, particularly those of the avant-garde..." This is the word of power, of a composer who has found his own voice, and it's difficult to come away from this disc without thinking that Silvestrov represents one of the most alluring and original talents in contemporary music today. That doesn't mean his music is "easy", nor on the other hand does it require any special mental preparation on the part of the listener other than a sympathetic ear. What it does have is integrity and
Read more a powerful urge to communicate.

The Cello Sonata offers a curious mix of the new and old. It's a dramatic work, but not in terms of the dialog or opposition of instrumental forces; as often as not piano and cello play in unison or offer simple support to each other. There is no real dialog between them at all. Rather, the drama occurs in the opposition of musical ideas. After a few abrupt opening gestures, the cello sings out a gorgeous tune with phrases interrupted by rumblings on the piano, sometimes dark and angry, sometimes sweetly easeful. There's an entire emotional world in these simple intimations. Next the cello repeats a modest rhythmic idea in its lowest register while the piano sends out fountains of shimmering chromatic scales. Suddenly the cello line begins to ascend, the piano's gestures begin to fade, and the music gently returns to the music of the opening, even more beautifully phrased and voiced, in one of the most thrillingly staged non-sonata-form recapitulations you will ever encounter. And so we hear both sections once again, subtly altered, until a haunting coda featuring metallic ponticello murmurings from the cello gradually envelops itself in silence. There is nothing like it anywhere else in contemporary music.

I have spent some time describing the Cello Sonata so that a listener new to this music has some idea of what to expect. The String Quartet No. 1 uses a lovely chorale theme as its tonal anchor and takes the music on a winding journey through various musical landscapes, harmonious and dissonant, before arriving back to its beginning in another passage of sensitively staged resolution. Once again, it's marvelous to hear how freshly Silvestrov has managed to personalize the age-old musical concept of "departure" and "return".

The three pieces known as Postludium require different performing forces. No. 1 employs wordless soprano (actually she sings a single "amen" at the end), violin, cello, and piano, and was conceived as a memorial to Shostakovich. It's gorgeous, with a painfully beautiful central section. No. 2 is a lengthy (nine-minute) piece for solo violin, and its exquisite austerity makes the most demands on the listener. The payoff comes in the form of Postlude No. 2, for cello and piano, which is none other than the glorious tune from the first part of the Cello Sonata, here taking the stage all by itself.

Silvestrov himself plays the piano in the concluding Hymne 2001, a magisterial finale to an extraordinary disc. The other works, recorded under the composer's supervision, receive loving treatment at the hands of a stellar array of performers. Silke Avenhaus' rippling, hammerless piano in particular makes the music glow as it must, and ECM's sonics bathe the music in warmth, with even the most quiet moments never lacking in tactile presence. In sum, this is a totally compelling musical experience from beginning to end. You may not capture all of it at once: much of Silvestrov's work is quiet, dark, and elegiac. But I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself listening to this magical disc again and again.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Sonata for Cello and Piano by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Silke Avenhaus (Piano), Anja Lechner (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 01/2001 
Venue:  Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt am Main 
Length: 22 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Anja Lechner (Cello), Andreas Reiner (Violin), Simon Fordham (Violin),
Helmut Nicolai (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rosamunde Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 01/2001 
Venue:  Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt am Main 
Length: 21 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Postludes (3) by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Maacha Deubner (Soprano), Silke Avenhaus (Piano), Simon Fordham (Violin),
Anja Lechner (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981-1982; Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 01/2001 
Venue:  Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt am Main 
Length: 20 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Hymn 2001 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Valentin Silvestrov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ukraine 
Date of Recording: 01/2001 
Venue:  Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt am Main 
Length: 6 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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