Notes and Editorial Reviews
Nominated for the 2005 Grammy Award for "Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Contemporary Composition."
"Time in Valentin Silvestrov's music is a black lake." So begins Paul Griffiths' notes to this recording--and it only gets more murky and muddled from there. Fortunately, the music and texts speak more clearly and profoundly than an annotator's pretentious prose, and what we have here is a new work (completed in 1999) that finds yet one more way to express the familiar Requiem language and emotion, albeit with its own language of sharp-angled melody and clustered, closely voiced harmonies, dramatically cast both in crashing thunder and exploding lightning and in moments of penetrating
declamation and lovely, lyrical, prayerful introspection.
Throughout this memoriam to the composer's wife Larissa (who died suddenly in 1996), we notice hints of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (minor-seconds and major-seventh melodic leaps), Brahms' German Requiem (thrumming low bass and minor-seventh in the orchestral opening--and even the same number of movements), and in the Agnus Dei, many Mozartean stylistic references. Much of the stormy stuff comes in the Adagio-Moderato-Allegro second movement--Tuba mirum...rex tremendae maestatis--which follows a rather portentous Largo opening. The third-movement Lacrimosa offers a beautiful soprano solo that moves in slithering, sensuous chromaticism, then leaps a major-seventh and falls back again, a theme eventually picked up by the chorus and orchestra, building to a more agitated closing section that ends calmly. The fourth movement is a setting of a poem by Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko ("Farewell, O world! Farewell, O earth!") for humming chorus and two different solo voices (tenor and soprano), its style and mood reminiscent of early-20th-century Slavic liturgical chant.
The choir and orchestra give solid, committed performances that bear the stamp of devotion to the spirit of the score as well as deep understanding of this composer's personal style, a style that follows no easily discernible form but rather seems to emerge spontaneously, in this case governed by an emotional response to the texts and this requiem's special context. Although there are seven distinct movements in the work, each flows easily into the next, while thematic material appears, disappears, and reappears in a way that never seems contrived but rather enhances and unifies. Although there are many layers to the structure and contents of this piece, which Griffiths happily discusses, you also can listen to and enjoy this powerful and often moving work without having to know the intricate details--the orchestration is never dull and Silvestrov's evocation of the texts is both marvelously reassuring and frightening--and that's the best tribute to this difficult yet unfailingly sincere and still evolving composer.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Requiem for Larissa by Valentin Silvestrov
Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra,
Ukrainian National Capella "Dumka"
Period: 20th Century
Written: 2000; Ukraine
Date of Recording: 2001
Venue: Kiev, Ukraine
Length: 52 Minutes 31 Secs.
Notes: This selection is performed in Latin and Ukrainian.
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