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Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1935)
Symphony No. 6 (1994-95)
SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andrey Boreyko
rec. June 2006 Stadthalle Sindelfingen
ECM NEW SERIES 1935 [54:20]
Experience Classicsonline

Silvestrov’s star is rising lately — it wasn’t long ago at all that very little of his work was available on disc at all — Monodia, Symphony 4, and various vocal works were available on two discs from Megadisc. Symphony 5 appeared on the practically-impossible-to-get-in-the-U.S. Musica non Grata series put out by BMG/Melodiya, which was briefly available in the late 1990s. Here we have the most recent Silvestrov release from ECM New Series, which have issued several discs of Silvestrov’s work in the past few years, including a requiem, orchestral music, and chamber pieces.
Silvestrov, born and currently living in Kiev, won the international Koussevitsky Prize in 1967 for his Symphony No. 3. His Symphony No. 4, completed in 1976, is perhaps the first of a sort of triptych, with his Fifth and Sixth symphonies rather uniform in sound and tone.  The Sixth is the longest of the three, with mirror-image-arranged movements surrounding the strangely-beautiful nebula of the third movement, initially marked andantino, almost a half-hour long.
Nebula seems an apt descriptor for all of these movements, actually. Silvestrov’s orchestral music tends to open in the way a large ship or great eminence appears out of a dense fog, the sense of structure and size coming on as a revelation.  Symphony 6 continues this, appearing in great bulk out of the mist of the orchestral writing, with large chords that fade as other members of the orchestra chime in.  The lower brasses and strings add a hostile sense of the inchoate in the first movement. There is no sense of formal development, though the first movement ends with a feeling of expectation before it leads into the second, which continues much as the first did. The centrepiece third movement begins with a tender melody, a sense of form at last, with the mists abating somewhat. It’s a beautiful and warm four minutes or so before the brass returns, but that warmth returns in snatches throughout the movement and on to the end of the piece, especially with the touching piano and harp sharing the opening of the fourth movement.  There’s a grand impression of space in this work, every sound resonating outward perhaps to plumb the reaches of such a vast area.  Silvestrov mentioned that to him music “is not a philosophy, not a world-view, it is the song of the world about itself, as it were a musical testimony to existence.”
This certainly can be heard here.  Overall, in Silvestrov’s past two symphonies and especially in the one heard here, there is a sense of emergence, which listeners will find compelling.  I certainly find it so.  On this disc the SWR provide the best-yet recorded of Silvestrov’s symphonies that this reviewer has heard.
David Blomenberg

see also review by Rob Barnett



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