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Vladimir GENIN (b.1958)
In C Est
4/4: four chamber compositions for four interpreters

Interlude with two plastic pantomimes [15:12]
Letzte Augenblicke [30:58]
o Duo o.. [15:08]
Double Espresso Plus [4:00]
Tatiana Kuindzhi (soprano) (Letzte Augenblicke); Tatiana Yurieva (violin), Arseniy Kotliarevsky (cello) (Interlude, o Duo o..., Double Espresso Plus); Vladimir Genin (piano)
rec. Moscow, 2007, Studio OOO "MihajloV"
RUSSIAN COMPACT DISC RCD 30111 [65:20]

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The four works on this disc are describes as being "four absolutely autonomous compositions ... perceived as one large cycle." Perceived, or conceived? It’s quite easy to put four pieces by the same composer together in one place and invent a neat title to give the impression that they are related by more than the inherent unity of having the same composer, so I don’t read too much into the ‘risky ambitious project’ line. No dates are given for the works, so it’s hard to evaluate in terms of chronological continuity. The tone C is also given as a golden thread through the programme, but without having been told that this is so I doubt if many listeners would fill it in on their questionnaire after a blind audition. Whatever happens, do not imagine this has anything to do with Terry Riley.

Vladimir Genin’s idiom is essentially romantic, lyrical, and atmospheric. None of the pieces are in any way impenetrable in an avant-garde sense, although there is greater substance here than anything you might associate with ‘new age’. Whiffs of waltzes and other dances crop up from time to time, but some of the opening movement, Pantomime I, is also quite hard-hitting, in between atmospheric filigrees. The Interlude is a deceptively simple statement, one of those musical insights which can hit a composer at key moments – in this case, the death of Genin’s father. The final Pantomime II brings the waltz to the fore, the violin becoming a whistling caricature, and taking on the same rhythmic status as the piano at times.

Letzte Augenblicke is a set of songs with texts by X. Evangelista. These are printed in the booklet in German, but not translated further. As the longest cycle/piece of the four, this is describes as the "emotional and conceptual core of the project." Tatiana Kuindji has a powerful and expressive soprano voice, which is equally at home with the extended lines of the first song, Lure-call of the bloom, as in the rhythmic angularity of for this only dance. The ensemble is completed by piano and cello, the last as a counter-balance to the soprano voice and as the appearance of a "kind of love triangle" in terms of instrumentation as well as symbolically. The overall impression is of darkness, brought to its deepest point with todgeburt, or ‘stillbirth’. This is another of those deceptively simple pieces, which to me show how less-is-more when expressing the strongest emotions. Higher energy levels come with the frenetic making time run through my fingers, which is driven by a low, high-density ostinato in the piano. These are songs which somehow express Russian-ness as well as the gamut of emotions in the texts, and while not the most cheerful of listening experiences I have to admit to being highly impressed.

Cello and violin duet o Duo o... adapts its title from the German ‘oh you...’ Described as "a poem of loneliness", the music is sparse indeed, with the cello inhabiting the work for a long time on its own: "the violin appears right at the moment when any hope for its appearance has been abandoned." This is at 6:00, after which the cello rises to meet its new companion. The sense of longing and nostalgia is heightened by some use of Jewish intonations, and as the music progresses it builds, ending in a "bloodcurdling catharsis."

The final work in this set of four is Double Espresso Plus, which, as its title suggests, can be seen as the ‘happy ending’ after all the turbulent emotional struggles in the previous pieces. This piece does have some dancing rhythms, but is in fact less than light in mood and no easy let-off for the listener. As with the songs, the trio is seen as a love triangle, with "the poor piano clamped between two enraged furies, violin and cello."

The recording itself is OK, if not the most attractive at all times. Very much a small studio affair, I have the impression the sound has been ‘helped’ with the reverb set at ‘large hall’, an effect thankfully kept low in the balance. The piano is not mother’s best instrument, and is also close-miked and the whole sound compresses at high-density peaks in the volume. Never mind, this is an impressive achievement, and contains a great deal of powerfully individual music. The young musicians play and sing their hearts out, and are completely in tune with the composer’s intentions. Genin’s own pianism is also impressive. As a combination of strong chamber-music performance and some stirring new music, this is a disc which deserves to be heard.

Dominy Clements

 

 

 

 


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