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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Alexandre RABINOVITCH-BARAKOVSKY (b.1945)
Pura Cosa Mentale

CD1
Six Etats Intermédiaires: La Vie; Le Rêve; La Transe; Le Moment de la Mort; Réalité; l’Existence. (Symphony based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead Bardo Thödol) (1998) [52.46]
Musique Populaire (1980) [18.44]
CD2
La Triade: Le Deuil; La Transe; Le Silence (Sinfonia Concertante for amplified violin and orchestra) (1998) [28.50]
Trois Invocations (1995) [20.02]
La Belle Musique No. 4 (1987) [17.58]
Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra/composer (Six Etats); Martha Argerich/composer (two amplified pianos) (Musique Populaire); Yayoi Toda (violin), Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto/composer (Triade); Filarmonica Quartet/composer (celesta) (Invocations); Mikhail Adamovitch, Alexéi Ieriomine, Anatol Batagov, composer (amplified pianos) (La Belle Musique No. 4).
Rec. 5 Oct 2002, Belgrade (Six Etats); 2 Apr 1992, Warsaw (Musique Populaire); 10 May 1999, Padova (Triade); Nov 2001, Paderewski Hall, Lausanne (Invocations); Mikhail Adamovitch, Alexéi Ieriomine, Anatol Batagov, composer (amplified pianos) (La Belle Musique No. 4).
MEGADISC CLASSICS MDC 7812/11 [71.30+66.50]



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Born in Baku in 1945, Rabinovitch-Barakovsky studied piano with Benjamin Fleischmann and composition with Kabalevsky and Piroumov at the Moscow Conservatory. He left the USSR in 1974 and moved to Geneva. His repertoire as a performer concentrates on the Romantics. He has made many recordings in piano duo with Martha Argerich, for Teldec and EMI (Rachmaninov, Brahms, Mozart, Dukas, Richard Strauss and Ravel). He is active as a conductor, working with the Orchestra da camera di Padova e del Veneto and with the Sinfonia Varsovia. His compositions have been performed in Venice, Graz, Witten, London, Moscow, Cologne, Salzburg, Zurich, Munich, Paris, Tokyo and Milan. Patrick De Clerck’s heroically committed Megadisc label based in Belgium has done much for him as can be seen from the list at the end of this review. (Acknowledgement to the Argerich Foundation site for much of this information).

Rabinovitch-Barakovsky can loosely be aligned with the lambent minimalist-melodic trends apparent from the works of various fellow Russians: Nikolai Korndorf (try: Hymn II and Hymn III with Catherine Bott and BBC Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Lazarev on Sony Classical SK66824), Alemdar Karamanov (try: Olympia Explorer OCD486 of symphonies 20 and 23 with the USSRSO/Fedoseyev and Decca 452 850-2D in which Ashkenazy conducts the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Berlin in No. 22, "Let it be" and No. 23, "I am Jesus") and, to an extent, Valentin Silvestrov in his Fifth Symphony (a composer also championed by Megadisc).

The composer’s style has been pretty consistent across the years and whatever philosophy underlies the music (and note-writer Brenno Boccadoro has much to say about this in the booklet) the music is tonal and leans on repetition and micro-changes in themes and rhythms. These works are often active at the soprano or sopranino heights of the scale. The Six Etats revel voluptuously bell-like, in whirling minimalistic exultation. This music suggests instinctive reactions around a theme closely related to the orgiastic ecstasy of Rachmaninov’s music for The Bells. I have in mind the section where the overwhelming Russian spring is invoked with an excitement barely controllable just before the female choir comes in vertiginously high in the register. Later we pick up intense convulsive echoes of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4 amid roaring brass figures in La Transe. Rachmaninov references are not in short supply and it is interesting that Rabinovitch-Barakovsky recorded the Symphonic Dances and the two two-piano suites with Argerich on Teldec 9031747172 in 1992 recently reissued on Warner Elatus 0927496112. The third movement concludes with a gentle wind-down with highlights touched in by guitar. In the second movement the theme is Tchaikovskian and balletic; fleetingly recalling something from Swan Lake. Throughout, the more vigorous moments suggest a pared-down Messiaen (no surprise to learn that he recorded Vision de l’Amen with Argerich on EMI Classics CDC 7540502) concentrating on iterative note-cells rather than the French composer’s voluptuous profusion. And all those echo-emphasised synthesisers and organs will strike a ready chord with music buffs who know Herrmann’s music for the films Journey to Centre of the Earth and The Day the Earth Stood Still. The fourth movement is slower and quieter but just as rhythmically insistent. The finale conveys a sense of the risen sun and of warmth. The same insistent rising rhythmic figure (the one that recalls The Bells), part icy and part ecstatic reappears, ending the work in glowing contentment. Musique Populaire blends the liveliness of Rachmaninov with an eager and aggressive edge-of-seat excitement. This is Beethoven-like: a wild fantasia related to the opening of Waldstein and of the Fifth Symphony. The music is punishingly insistent until it finally and gradually subsides into capricious nocturnal flurries and flourishes.

In the Triade concerto the soloist is part high priest; part hortator. The violin goads the music along - a flaming Valkyrie ride mixed with Hungarian virtuosity. Insistently whirling energy storms, stabs and parries all underpinned by light percussion. The whole effect is slightly manic at one moment and at the next gamelan and mantra-like. The piece ends dreamily with material that is still noticeably the same but at a decelerated pulse. Once again we get that same slow wind-down; clearly a Rabinovitch-Barakovsky hallmark. Here the farewell is accompanied by the whispering ascends and descends of violins dying into the void. The soloist finally exhorts to dreams and trances rather than to action. The Invocations is by far the most impressive and likeable piece here. The same surge-repeated treatment applies here varied by the textures of the string quartet. The celesta (played by the composer) is prominent in the last two movements. It is as if one of the percussive rhythms at the end of Shostakovich 15 has escaped, found fulfilment and enlightenment and spawned children each absorbed in its own sound. The third Invocation establishes a Nutcracker-like magic in chaste whispered reiteration. A moaning cyclic whispering from the quartet ushers us towards a perfectly calculated silence. La Belle Musique No. 4 comprises a big single movement with the incantatory suggestion of Rachmaninov’s Fourth Concerto returning at 3.10. The four pianos imply a Lisztian indulgence rather like the multi-composer Hexameron variations but the material is more slender and spare.

These tapes come from various sources but all are clear and very listenable. The performances either involve the composer or certainly have his blessing. The set is well documented allowing for a philosophy overload. If you like the sound of sensuous minimalism with trance-inducing overtones don’t hesitate for a moment. The presence of Martha Argerich will bring in many purchasers who might otherwise have passed by on the other side of the street. After the experience of this intriguing music I for one would very much like to reassess Argerich’s and Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s Messiaen and Rachmaninov although I suspect those CDs - especially the Messiaen - have disappeared into deletion oblivion.

Rob Barnett

RABINOVITCH-BARAKOVSKY ON MEGADISC

MDC7831: Incantations; Schwanengesang an Apollo; La Belle Musique No. 3

MDC7822 Perpetuum Mobile; Recit de Voyage; Die Zeit
DRC3033 La Triade; Das tibetanische Gebet
No Number: Introduction To Alexandre Rabinovitch. Requiem Pour Une Maree Noire; Metif Optimiste Suivi De Sa Demystification; Discours Sur La Delivrance - Mark Drobinsky



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