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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Alla PAVLOVA (b.1952) feature
Alla PAVLOVA (b.1952)

Symphony No. 2 For the New Millenium (1999) [43.44]
Music from The Old New York Nostalgia suite for string orchestra, percussion, alto and tenor saxophone and trumpet (1994-95) [15.52]
Elegy for Piano and String Orchestra (1998) [4.07]
Yaroslav Krasnikov (violin)
Victor Goltiapin (alto saxophone)
Leonid Tushev (tenor saxophone)
Ilia Feropontov (trumpet)
Peter Izotov (piano)
International Symphony Orchestra 'Globalis'/Konstantin D. Krimets
rec. Moscow Film Concert Inc. Studio 1. 1999
ALBANY TROY397 [63.44]
Alla PAVLOVA (b.1952)

Symphony No. 1 Farewell Russia (1994) [25.52]
Symphony No. 3 (2000) [40.53]
Olga Vedernikova (violin)
Leonid Lebedev (flute)
Nikolay Lotakov (piccolo)
Mikhail Shestakhov (violin)
Valery Brill (cello)
Mikhail Adamovich (piano)
Russian Philharmonia Orchestra/Konstantin D Krimets (1); Alexander Vedernikov (3)
rec. Russian Broadasting Studios, Moscow, 1 June 1995 (1): 10-14 Dec 2001 (3). DDD
NAXOS 8.557157 [66.46]
Alla PAVLOVA (b.1952)

Six Piano Impressions after Fairy Tales by H.C. Andersen (1990) [9.22]
Prelude (1994) [6.10]
Summer Pictures (1994) [4.36]
Lullaby for Irene (1972) [2.21]
Winter Morning (1993) [3.13]
The Eyes, Begging for Mercy [1.50]
The Dream (1979) [2.18]
We are the Love (1974) [4.45]
Symphony No. 1 Farewell Russia (1994) [26.02]
soloists of Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Konstantin Krimets
rec. 1994-5, New York and Moscow.
ALLA PAVLOVA 122095 [69.17]


Alla Pavlova now lives in the USA. She is Russian gaining her Masters in Music at Gnesin. She has also lived in Sofia, Bulgaria (1983-86) and Moscow (1986-1990). Since 1990 she has made New York her home. There she is active as a musicologist and is a member of the New York Women Composers Inc.

Having heard these three discs I can assure you that Russia is still important to her as also is the need to communicate with the listening public and for her music to mean something valuable in a listener's internal day-to-day life.

The Albany disc starts with the four movement Second Symphony. The first movement is a hybrid of emoting Tchaikovskian sentiment and Finzian restfulness. The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is strongly suggested because of the prominent role for Yaroslav Krasnikov's solo violin throughout the movement. Indeed Krasnikov's solo voice also provides the quietest of valedictory consummations for the work as a whole. This same 'peaceful kingdom' with its comforting curvaceous ‘fall’ is found in the eloquent third movement. Its wondering sentimentality is carried over into the dreamy Tchaikovskian idyll of the long finale with its contented echoes of Delius and Grieg. The balm of the solo trumpet at 13.40 momentarily recalls Hovhaness. The second movement is a Nocturnal march with a gentle hint of Shostakovich rising to a most ungentle and splenetic outburst fading on the resonant echo of the tam-tam.

Music from The Old New York Nostalgia is music of comfortably radiant 'heat'. The saxophone is used for its warm glow rather than its sleazy seediness. This is bleary-eyed and knowing metropolitan music. It is closely recorded and tenderly romances the listener through Quiet City trumpet playing. Only in the soft shoe shuffle of The Broadway's Song do things move in new directions. Even so the music casts lingering looks towards the boulevard and neon solitude of deserted streets. The Ferry to My Dream is another lovingly coaxed melody harking back to the first movement of the four movement suite. Pavlova is confident enough to end on a calming downbeat.

The Elegy for piano and string orchestra is just as romantic as Pavlova's other music though more direct speaking than the wisps and glancing gestures of the First Symphony. By no means in the same idiom it could bracket well with Finzi's Eclogue. Its approachable film music quality places it with the temperate emotions of Myers' The Deerstalker and the more calming stretches of Nyman's score for The Piano. It comes as no surprise that the music owes its existence to a commission for the 1998 film 'The American Healys'.

Alla Pavlova has produced her own disc having the same recording of Symphony No. 1 as on the Naxos disc and a large number of smaller pieces. I deal with the Symphony in my review of the Naxos volume.

The Six Hans Andersen Impressions 'After Fairy Tales'. The Mermaid suns herself on the rocks of some distant reef dreamily drinking in the dazzle of sun on ocean and glinting waves. Little Took is a joky scherzo - rather like Mussorgsky's Unhatched Chicks but without the macabre element. Thumbelina dances like a crystal glass ballerina. Both The Rose from Homer's Grave and The Old Tombstone are sombre and Debussian. The Clock of the Snow Queen is icily etched with dissonance to match the Queen's cruel heart. The Prelude dedicated to her mother is broad-minded enough to accommodate some dissonance as part of a surreal pilgrimage as well as some moments that suggest Rachmaninov in Etude-Tableau mood. The Two Summer Pictures are concerned with precipitation. The oblique language of Misty Morning is heavy with the drip of the dew impressionistically portrayed as also is Summer Shower. All these piano solos are imaginatively taken by the Bulgarian pianist Anna Stoytcheva, presumably a friend of Pavlova's from the Sofia days. The earliest piece here is the 1972 Lullaby for Irene which sings sweetly through the medium of piano and tender violin and vibraphone. If the Lullaby bridges naturally to the style of the Third Symphony and New York Nostalgia. The Pushkin setting, Winter Morning is haltingly put across as also are the two Akhmatova songs from 1979. Completely different and absolutely consonant with Lullaby for Irene is We Are the Love, a superb setting for soprano, piano, two violins and cello. No words or translations provided.

Finally we come to the most easily accessible of Pavlova's discography: the Naxos disc of Symphonies 1 and 3. This has already been reviewed here by Steve Arloff. My comments are a footnote to that review. The single movement First Symphony is a bejewelled piece. Its glinting tapestry of melodic wisps, shimmering concise gestures, chamber transparency, by turns cool, nostalgic, singing perhaps of the old USSR (and by extension Bulgaria) where state support for the arts (conformist, it's true) allowed some artists to flourish. Pavlova herself has described it as a symphony with piano solos of which there are three. The music has a dreamlike progression with its animal cries, pained and joyous. Its often placid and certainly elegiac atmosphere recalls Strauss's Metamorphosen.

The Third Symphony was inspired by the Joan of Arc monument near Riverside Drive, New York. It is in four movements with prominent voicing for Olga Vedernikova's solo violin. The first movement proceeds with a regular pulse - a breathing pattern. The music might be taken as a modern counterpart to a Vivaldian idyll; at other times a little like Rota and Puccini. There is a swell-and-surge regular rhythmic pattern to each of the four movements. The last of these takes on a stormy Iberian character suggested not only superficially by the castanets but also by the lie of the long-held string theme which enigmatically carries two polarities: lamentation and joy. The potent string theme as reflected at 6.11 on the solo violin is typical of Pavlova - serenity woven with sadness and superbly set off by the quickly rolling full violin complement at 6.57. Olga Vedernikova once again takes a solo spot towards the end of the fourth movement in music that has the calm quiet 'centring' effect of works like Finzi's Introit and Eclogue.

The composer intends that the Third should provide support and inspiration at difficult times in a listener's life.

The disc is nicely complemented by the cover illustration which is 'Warrior of Light' by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947). Astonishing that a painting looking so contemporary should have been done before 1947.

The music is well recorded given its disparate demands from detailed character to isolated broad swathe statements. The Third Symphony is the most resonantly recorded of the two.

Pavlova is unafraid of expressively emotional music that some may find short on grand set-piece dramatics. Pavlova has the gift of concentrated articulation of musical ideas and the valour to present her ideas without the conventional adornments of high drama and shattering climaxes. Her music is predominantly melodic sometimes with commercial directness at other times more refined. Imperfect comparisons with the sound of other composers would include the languid Delius, the prayerfully keening Panufnik, the phantasmal world of Valentin Silvestrov, the diaphanous scores of Ravel, the tenderness of Pettersson and the nostalgia of Miaskovsky.

There is surreal serenity about this music woven with unflinching sadness, without concessions to short attention spans and all within the long émigré tradition of nostalgia for homeland and jadis amplified by distance and time.



Alla PAVLOVA (b. 1952)

Symphony No. 2 For the New Millennium (rev. 2002) [37:34]
Symphony No. 4 (2002) [19:59]
Yaroslav Krasnikov (violin)
Georgy Khachikyan (organ)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev
rec. 17-20 Sept 2003, Studio 5, Russian State TV and Radio Company, KULTURA, Moscow. DDD
NAXOS 8.557566 [57:33]
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At least for now this disc, together with Naxos 8.557157, completes the symphonies of Pavlova available on CD.

The Russian composer and musicologist Alla Pavlova has since 1990 lived in New York. Before that she had lived in Moscow working for the Russian Music Society Board (1986-90). She first moved to Moscow to study at the Gnesin Institute in 1983 but also spent time in Sofia the Bulgarian capital.

Her Symphony for the New Millennium (the second symphony) was first written 1997-98. It was recorded in that form by Albany in Moscow by the Globalis International Symphony Orchestra. The present revision was made after the composer had had the chance to come to terms with the experience of that recording.

The first of the four movements has the solo violin as a prominent voice speaking for man confronted by the Universe. The tone is bemused, romantic and maybe faintly elegiac - a Tchaikovskian flavour often found in the woodwind. The tone of the music, across the four movements, is lyrical and in the imagery of light and dark in movements 2 and 3 we catch echoes: Shostakovich-like determination in 2 at 1.25 but softened rather than acrid. The third movement is soft-grained, regretful, autumnal - a little redolent of the film music of Gabriel Yared and John Barry. The symphony is dedicated to the composer's husband Arkady.

The Fourth Symphony is about half the length of the Second. There is a cantor's role for the organ but the tone is reverent and slow blooming; again it is much as expected from the Second Symphony. The composer sees this work as the musical analogue of Nicholas Roerich's painting Path to Shambala detail of which is included on the front cover of the insert (another Roerich is included on the cover of 8.557157). Once again the epic stride of this music is complemented by extensive writing for solo violin. The piece ends amid the sound of gleaming violins and a haze of bells.

This music is not for impatient souls who crave dramatic variety. Its mood is almost exclusively inward and introspective with echoes of RVW's The Lark Ascending and Tchaikovsky's Pathétique and the slow movement of the First Piano Concerto. Peaceful contemplation reigns.

Rob Barnett

 

A message from the composer

Dear Rob Barnett,
I truly appreciate that you personally took your time to listen to my music and to write about me.
Some information about the pianist Anna Stoytheva. I met Anna at her concert at Avery Fisher Hall. It was her debut with Juilliard Orchestra in 1994 after winning the Ravel Concerto Piano Competition in New York. She was 20 years old. I introduced her to "New York Women Composers, Inc". She played works by women composers at many of our concerts in the USA and some abroad.
I met all my Bulgarian performers in New York. They all received their Degrees from the Juilliard.
Sincerely
Alla Pavlova

 



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