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A Tribute to Silvestrov Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-88)
Andante con tenerezza in A minor [6:37] Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Klavierstück in A major [4:39] Franz SCHUBERT arr. Valentin SILVESTROV (b.1937)
Marriage Waltz (1826 arr. 2002) [4:18] Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937)
Kitsch Music [15:53] Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in B minor K87 [6:22] Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Etude in E-flat minor, Op.10 no.6 [4:06] Valentin SILVESTROV
Melody (2001) [2:44]
Melody (1967) [1:09] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)
No.14 in E-flat major [2:34]
No.2 in B minor [1:42] Valentin SILVESTROV
Vladimir Feltsman (piano)
rec. Fisher Performing Arts Center at Bard College, New York, USA 16 December, 2004 NIMBUS RECORDS NI6317 [67:52]
What a delightful disc this is. It fully meets its remit of programming pieces that pianist Vladimir Feltsman describes as having ‘an ability to recreate moments of beauty, moments of perfection that could be realised as such only after they are lost ...’ All demonstrate a delicate fragility that is immediately appealing. Feltsman already has three discs in tribute to Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Scriabin. What distinguishes this disc from them is that while they only contained music by those composers this one includes music by others than Silvestrov. This is because Silvestrov wrote that ‘I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists’ and what is included here by him certainly demonstrates that. The booklet notes describe Silvestrov as being ‘considered one of the leading representatives of the ‘Kiev avant-garde’ which came to public attention around 1960 and was violently criticized by the proponents of the conservative Soviet musical aesthetic’. None of the music of his included on this disc bears any resemblance to the avant-garde. It is hard to understand how anyone could take exception to it; obviously they were judging him by different compositions which I have yet to discover. Often while listening it is easy to think you are in the nineteenth century such is the connection to the world of Schumann, Chopin and Brahms as is noted on a previous disc of his piano music played by Elisaveta Blumina that I reviewed in 2013. This is why his music on this disc is interspersed with music by others including Chopin, Schubert and Schumann. This serves to underline the fact that to be true to oneself a composer need not feel obliged to be ultra-modern for the sake of it but should instead write the music that moves them the most.
The disc begins with a piece by CPE Bach which sets the tone since its delicate nature is the key component found in every piece. Two pieces by Schubert follow after which the first work by Silvestrov is his Kitsch Music an ironic title since the Oxford Dictionary definition of 'kitsch' is something ‘considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way’. Silvestrov’s five short pieces that form this work are anything but banal or over-sentimental; rather they are simply charming and tuneful in the same vein as the illustrious company they share on this disc. This goes for all his works presented here while those by Scarlatti, Chopin, Wagner and Schumann are – well you don’t need me to tell you.
Silvestrov’s music may have offended the 'cultural police' in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. How ironic it is that this genre which they would have found innocuous would instead have been shunned by our equivalent music hierarchy in that same decade when tunes were definitely out while the avant-garde was warmly embraced and encouraged.
If any readers have yet to discover the world of Silvestrov then this disc must surely be the best introduction and Vladimir Feltsman is the perfect vehicle to do so since his touch is so delicate, bringing out the magic in every piece by each composer.