Silvestrov is one of those newer wave Ukrainian composers who have had some
international success; so much so that the fifth symphony has been recorded
by Sony. I have not heard the Sony disc so regrettably cannot make a comparison.
However, reportedly, the temperature on the Sony is a degree or two chillier
than on the present disc.
First of all to the other pieces on this disc. The two pieces from Kitsch
Music are not as you might expect. Rather than cheap brummagem copies
we get two essays for solo piano in a style ripplingly close to a Chopin
Nocturne. The second is Schubertian. These are extremely accessible and sincere
pieces following a line similar to the classical era facsimiles produced
by George Rochberg.
The string quartet is quite an avant-garde piece opening in meditative style
like Schubert's string quintet but soon sliding off into modernism: high
notes, distant screams, gauzy moth-wings, voile curtains and a stroll around
the clammy marches between sleep and waking.
The fifth symphony is in one mammoth movement; in that sense similar to the
huge symphonic structures of Allan Pettersson to whose music there is a passing
resemblance if one ignores the Swede's tendency toward the depressive. The
symphony starts in mild modernism with shuddering and shaking but this resolves
into a simple theme of great and slow moving tenderness. The theme and the
treatment is rather Mahlerian - in fact it seems to recall the Adagietto
from Mahler 5. Shadows and echoes of beauty move in somnambular trance-like
motion; self-absorbed nostalgia sustained over a long span. The Brucknerian
pace and sense of time cross-reference with other works: Barber's Knoxville:
Summer of 1915; Pettersson Symphony No. 7 and the nostalgic themes of
film composer Ennio Morricone. This music returns towards the close and reminded
me quite spontaneously of the strangely fragrant descriptions of the supernatural
beings in C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet.
While essentially simple the symphony is richly voluptuous and is lit by
a colossal beauty-centred candlepower. Glorious.
Recommended as one of the peaks of the Musica Non Grata series.