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Boris TISHCHENKO (1939-2010)
Symphony No. 5, Op. 67 (1976) [44:36]
Concerto for Flute, Piano and Strings, Op. 54 (1972) [33:00]
Valentin Zverev (flute)
Alexey Nasedkin (piano)
USSR Radio & Television Orchestra/Maxim Shostakovich (symphony)
Soloists of the USSR State Orchestra/Edward Serov (concerto)
rec. Moscow Radio Studio, March 18, 1978 (symphony), Leningrad Recording Studio, June 1978 (concerto)

The music of Borish Tishchenko always warrants investigation. A student of Ustvolskaya at the Rimsky-Korsakov School of Music, he was based in St Petersburg and later he studied in a postgraduate capacity with Shostakovich. The Fifth Symphony was written after the death of Shostakovich and, like the Third, dedicated to him.

The Symphony No. 5 (1976) is dedicated to the memory of Shostakovich. There is a download competitor, the American SO under Leon Botstein, while on YouTube there is also a Gennadi Rozhdestvensky version with the USSR Ministry of Culture SO (Youtube); one assumes this is the same as on Olympia OCD 213 although the YouTube is clearly from an LP. Rozhdestvensky has plenty of power and conviction and the recording on the internet evidence is less raw than the Northern Flowers pressing.

The first movement opens with long cor anglais solo, a Soviet recollection of Tristan’s distress from Tristan und Isolde perhaps. Very dissonant wind and brass chords are rendered especially so by the harsh and bright recording (very much of its time and place). The equally long clarinet soliloquy that follows leads to a return of those dissonances for wind and brass; not exactly together here, it has to be said. A poignant flute and clarinet duet leads to a chattering aviary of wind. The second movement, entitled “Dedication”, has definite post-Shostakovich overtones: dark climaxes, huge chords combining low and high pitched instruments - for example low brass sounding with the shrieks of extremely high violins.

The active third movement, (“Sonata”) is highly gestural, and again those bass/treble chords appear. In fairness, the violins just manage. A really manic, skeletal (glockenspiel etc) passage, quoting from Shostakovich, make this an involving experience, enhanced perhaps by the seat of the pants feel to the performance on occasion. The fourth movement represents frozen Soviet music. A terrific haunting passage for string trills and a fabulous bass clarinet solo are highlights in this barren soundscape. Finally, the finale, with its nostalgic dance, veiled and appealing. There is a baroque passage for strings at around 4'50", an unexpected pastiche, followed by authentic Russian horn vibrato, coupled with that authentic, rough sound and a goodly dollop of approximation with random split notes. Interestingly, at eight minutes in it sounds exactly like it’s going into Shostakovich Fifth Symphony first movement. The end, with its piccolo pipings disappearing into the void, is remarkable. A phenomenally interesting piece.

Tishchenko’s Concerto for Flute, piano and strings Op. 14, written in Prague in 1972, is cast in four movements, beginning with an expressive Lento rubato. A desolate, long flute line, excellently delivered by Valentin Zverev, is eventually underpinned by double-basses, rumbling ominously; later string soloists impart a Brittenish sense of sadness and melancholy. The imaginative second movement allegretto – a somewhat nightmarish sound – is highly impressive. There are also teasing interplays between piano and flute, which are continued in the central allegretto. Tishchenko’s way of using dissonances skittishly rather than harshly is most appealing. The excellent Alexey Nasedkin’s piano dances in an angular, piquant way. There is a Shostakovich-like intensity to the second Lento rubato, and the grinding climax is absolutely crushing. The finale, although sharing its tempo marking of allegretto with the second movement, is more subdued. There is no forte marking or above, although the piano has the odd stabbed accent. The mechanistic, high writing for the piano around 4:45 above a sustained low string pedal (a sound much liked by Shostakovich) is both memorable and unsettling.

Wonderfully interesting music. One has to take the recording quality as it comes, but for sure the pros outweigh the cons.

Colin Clarke



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