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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
PAVLOVA (b. 1952)
Symphony No. 2 For the New Millennium
(rev. 2002) [37:34]
Symphony No. 4 (2002) [19:59]
Georgy Khachikyan (organ)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow
rec. 17-20 Sept 2003, Studio 5, Russian
State TV and Radio Company, KULTURA,
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.
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
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.
A message from the
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.