Tischenko was born in Leningrad and entered music college there
in 1954 pursuing studies with Galina Ustvolskaya. His postgraduate
work was with Shostakovich. He has written ten symphonies, a Requiem,
a wide range of concertos, ten piano sonatas, the opera The
Stolen Sun, the ballet Yaroslavna, and the operetta
The Giant Cockroach. In recent times he has been at work
on a 'choreosymphonic cyclade' entitled Beatrice after
Dante's Divine Comedy.
His Fifth Symphony is the Blockade
Chronicle Symphony, recorded on Northern Flowers NF/MA
9942. The Sixth is a symphony with voices in the manner of Shostakovich
13 and 14.
The movements of this work are:
1. Sentimental March (Anatoly Naiman)
2. Echo (Anna Akhmatova)
3. I Am (Marina Tsvetaeva)
4. Age-Haunted (Osip Mandelshtam)
5. One Of My Mind (Vladimir Levinzon)
The first of the five movements lasts
more than the other four put together. It is a grand, plungingly
histrionic and thunderous statement with a sense of gritty
victory won at terrible cost. Soprano Yuzvenko contests with
an orchestral canvas that delivers great salvos and groaning
protests as well as rich undulant swathes of sound and shimmering
tremors. Towards the end of the movement the voice of Elena
Rubin can be heard unaccompanied and distant in dialogue with
Yuzvenko. There is even a whispered choral section. This is
a dazzling movement full of strange landscapes and constant
engagement of head and heart. In the last four minutes it
all takes surreal and even operatic flight in the hands of
orchestra and Yuzvenko. Then come four short movements. The
composer has worked with the words of Anna Akhmatova for many
years and turns to her again in setting the poem Echo.
It is grim and taciturn and - like all of this music - of
indomitable strength. The words are nicely differentiated
by the alto. Next comes a setting of Marina Svetaeva's I
am just your dream bringing us back to the now rested
soprano. The poetry is enigmatic but is lit with a subtext
of bitter protest which in its crashing outrage recalls Shostakovich.
The fourth movement is a setting of Age-haunted by
Osip Mandelshtam. This moves with a slower burning flame than
its predecessor but it too is grandiloquently scored and scarred
by tragedy. The finale sets words by Vladimir Levinzon. Its
progress patters and moves forward with a discreet determined
lame-legged ostinato. Yet it manages to meld the elements
of a waltz as the voices of the two women entwine. The poem
suggests precious consolation in the confiding but not quiet
words Are you still alive? / I'm still alive .... Are you
still here .... I am.
This disc preserves a concert performance
of extraordinary intensity undiminished by the occasional
noises associated with a populated concert hall.
The liner-notes are admirable. Equally
pleasing is the fact that the words are printed in Russian
(Cyrillic) and English translation.
I hope that there will be much more Tischenko
from Northern Flowers.