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Kiev - Symphonic Chronicle (1981) 10.42
On Kulikovo Field - Symphony No. 2 (1979) 19.57
Episode in the Nature of a Fresco (1992) * 18.08
Misterioso (Symphony No. 3) (1989) 28.03
* Yegor Grechishnikov (violin) Tchaikovsky Great Academic SO/Vladimir Fedoseyev
rec 1998 BOHEME CDBMR 902043 [76.40]

Dmitriev was born in Krasnodar into a non-musical family. He began composing from age six. Shostakovich supported his entry into the composers' faculty of the Moscow Conservatoire in 1961. In 1969 he became a member of the Composers' Union of the USSR. He has written a treatise on percussion instruments (somehow not surprising from someone who uses the instruments so adroitly in the four works on this disc). In 1986 he was appointed vice-chair of the Board of the Moscow branch of the Composers Union. As Perestroika set in he was able to organise music festivals following themes previously 'iced': his concerts featured music of the Russian Orthodox Church, music by once-repressed composers like Roslavetz as well as the Western avant-garde: Xenakis, Stockhausen and Berio. His long list of works is printed in the booklet for this disc.

Kiev hauls into view with rasping modernistic rhetoric (rather 1960s volcanic) and from this we move into impressive episodes of mysticism (think in terms of the Mahlerian minimalism of Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony) and Orthodox plainchant. This is decidedly Russian music but without any trace of Shostakovich.

On Kulikovo Field: Alexander Blok's verse epic also inspired what is reputed to be Yuri Shaporin's finest work On the Field of Kulikovo. Dmitriev's much later effort is in four movements. The edgy clash of metal plates, drumkit riffs and nightmare birdsong give way, in the nocturne, to a cello rhapsody from which you take away impressions of Sibelius (Tapiola and Symphony No. 4), early Rautavaara and Salmenhaara. Whenever you are convinced that you are locked into a dissonant dream of broken mirrors Dmitriev redeems all with some truly august music rearing up in splendour (try the end of the second movement). A bluesy brass chorale calls out over the deliquescence of strings in Influx which also features music of powerhouse impact. The Light of the Motherland's Bergian strings offer little suggestion of socialist realism although the brass choir is the source of some proto-Soviet exuberance.

Episodes in the Nature of a Fresco can be thought of as a one-movement violin concerto. The soloist wastes no time - coming in with the first note against the orchestra. The whole work is about the length of the Glazunov concerto - ripe but far from lyric.

Misterioso is almost half an hour in length. Dmitriev's koine is that of the Polish modernists (Penderecki) moderated by Silvestrov's lyricism. This strikes one as a symphony of events: percussion expostulation, brass protests, woodwind comments; all contrast with a wondering lyricism usually borne along by violins or woodwind. It reminded me of Stankovich's Sinfonia Lirica (on Marco Polo) although this is for full orchestra rather than the Ukrainian's strings alone.

Stunning recording and informative notes.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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