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Silvestrov: Piano Works / Elisaveta Blumina

Silvestrov / Blumina,Elisaveta
Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Grand Piano   Catalog #: 639   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SILVESTROV Naïve Musik (1954-55, rev. 1993). Der Bote (version for piano, 1996-97). Two Waltzes, Op. 153 (2009). Four Pieces, Op. 2 (2006). Two Bagatelles, Op. 173 (2011). Kitschmusik (1977) Elisaveta Blumina (pn) Read more class="ARIAL12"> GRAND PIANO 639 (65: 58)

The piano music of Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937) is somewhat mystifying to behold: Listening to the very earliest examples from this recital— Naïve Musik from the mid 1950s, though reworked some 40 years later when the composer formed the present cycle—one is struck by the sheer innocence of this music. At this young age the composer was obviously and unashamedly infatuated with the piano music of Chopin, Grieg, Schumann, and Brahms, among others. One can hear all of these composers in his highly influenced yet still decidedly individual music. In a sense this entire recital is dream music—it is as though one is hearing this music for the first time because it is not Brahms, it is not Chopin (though there are moments when Silvestrov does quote his predecessor’s music in his own— Naïve Musik No. 6 is a perfect example) but it is their spirit reawakened a century later.

Der Bote (The Messenger), inspired by the philosophy of the Russian Jakov Druskin, exists in two versions, one for piano solo, the other for piano and chamber orchestra. In the former, performed exquisitely here by Elisaveta Blumina, Mozart is used as the basis of the composition. According to Druskin the messenger is representative of the relationship between two worlds—this one and the other one. What better means of evoking this one than Mozart and the other as Mozart perceived anew?

The other major cycle performed here, Kitschmusik (1977), is another set inspired by the masters of the 19th century. These works too seem simple upon first hearing, yet as the intriguing program notes reveal, much of the interest is generated through the subtle manipulation of meter, of tempo, of agogics, of pianistic attacks (half-legato, half-staccato, half-tenuto), the use of the una corda pedal, and the softest possible dynamics ( pppp to a “gentle mf ”). Once again the composer creates a hazy sound world through his carefully chosen means, ones which, according to him, impinge “gently on the memory of the listener” and “[resound] in his deepest consciousness.” This is not unlike Schumann’s music from afar.

The other smaller works are no less intriguing nor less beguiling in these performances. I will single out the Two Waltzes, op. 153, as they are dedicated to Blumina. Though simple in character, they are enchantingly played: The pianist takes nothing for granted, every nuance carefully captured, yet never over-calculated in effect; there is always a lovely naturalness to her playing, a wonderful sense of ebb and flow. Throughout the entire recital Blumina proves an inspired guide in Silvestrov’s highly personal and highly evocative sound world. Her muted quality suits much of this music well, often as per Silvestrov’s instructions ( Der Bote , according to the composer should be played “with the lightest of touches. The piano lid should be completely closed. The pedal should be used immediately so that the previous sound can resonate.”). Perhaps the only disappointment with this recording is that there is not more of it: I can only hope that Blumina will take some of the composer’s larger works into the recording studio in the near future—I’m thinking, in particular, of the three piano sonatas! But for now, I’ll have to suffice with this highly enticing little jewel.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Naive Music by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)
Der Bote for Piano solo by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Russia 
Waltzes (2) for Piano, Op. 153 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)
Pieces (4) for Piano, Op. 2 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)
Bagatelles (2) for Piano, Op. 173 by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)
Kitsch-Musik by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Elisaveta Blumina (Piano)

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