In 1958 Silvestrov
abandoned a course in construction engineering
to enrol in music training in Kiev with
Lev Revutsky and Boris Lyatoshinsky.
He soon courted and achieved disapproval
for his interest in Stockhausen and
would have attended Darmstadt but for
the State's refusal of a travel permit.
He was at various times roundly condemned
as a member of the avant-garde Kiev
His three movement
Monodia forms part of
the evidence. Here is a most atmospherically
recorded work for piano and orchestra
in wisps and flying shrapnel of musical
ideas, little dissonances, squeaks and
squeals, shards of fanfares and pointillist
gestures. While the first movement might
sometimes remind us of Frank Bridge's
Phantasm, the second and third
hum, bark, growl, chime and chitter
with the paraphernalia of modernism,
all expertly and transparently disintegrated,
fragmented and orchestrated.
Ten years on and for
all the glamour of the kaleidoscopic
atomised writing Silvestrov turned,
in his Fourth Symphony, to long
slow-singing lines and a tortured yearning
and tender Bergian lyricism. Listen
to the violin and viola carol-dialogues
at 8:47 and 17:20 - Finzi through a
darkling glass. This is not the last
time we hear such music from Silvestrov.
Siroccos of anxiety suddenly scud and
gallop through the strings at 12:10
- there is hysteria in the air. Braying
trombones recall similar gestural writing
in Shostakovich 15. Twisting motifs
rise and wheel into dissonant majesty
(20:00). The symphony is in a single
movement of about half an hour's length.
There are no woodwind in the orchestra;
only strings and brass.
Eight years later and
the Postludium is redolent
of the glorious melody-saturated Fifth
Symphony. The piano acts as orator amid
a grandly luxuriant aural landscape
which slowly heaves and stretches. Honeyed
and starry Mahlerian writing for violins
is studded with brass interjections.
Romantic, hesitant and then confidently
striking, sentimental melody rises to
the fore at 6:50 and 12:07. There are
echoes of Debussy here with touching
tender intimations and the outline of
birdcalls melting at the end into a
Bergian moonlit miasma.
These are meticulously
prepared and fascinating performances.
The recordings glow and turn in a sustained
Delian sunset. Especially the latter
two pieces reminded me of the recent
works of David Matthews.