Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b.1937) is an important contemporary voice in vocal music. In this new release, Silvestrov’s hauntingly beautiful vocal works are performed by the Latvian Radio Choir under their director Sigvards Kļava. During his artistic career, Silvestrov has explored a number of musical styles and techniques, such as avant-guard, post-modernism, neo-classicism, dodecaphony, aleatoric writing and pointillism. The fall of the Soviet Union, however, allowed Silvestrov to eventually compose spiritual works, inspired and influenced by his love of the Russian Orthodox Church music which Silvestrov imbues with his own unique sound and bursts of surprising harmonic moves. Silvestrov’s compositions are invested with the composer’s own unique personality, musical sensibility and sense of beauty.
One of the former Soviet Union’s leading composers and a member of the so-called Armenian ‘Mighty Handful’, Arno Babadjanian was admired by musicians of the stature of Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Rostropovich and David Oistrakh. He was also an outstanding pianist and a very considerable virtuoso. Babadjanian’s music explores his native Armenian folk tradition as well as elements of jazz and twelve-tone techniques…
Alexander Arutiunian was one of the most prominent composers in the USSR, one of the representatives of the Armenian ‘Mighty Handful’ and much admired by Shostakovich. An accomplished pianist, Arutiunian created virtuoso piano works that are rooted in Armenian folk traditions while expressing, in the words of Hayk Melikyan, “a rich palette of emotions reflecting both his time and the history of his nation”…
Joachim Raff (1822–1882) was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the foremost symphonists of his age, but in his extensive oeuvre of 329 compositions over half of them are for the piano. This selection of 21 works offers a cross section of the best of this large catalogue for the instrument, chosen by acclaimed Raff interpreter Tra Nguyen to showcase the varied aspects of his art. Raff’s melodic generosity, his piquant harmonic sensibility and ravishing textures are all on display in these pieces which span the whole of his career, from the exuberant Douze Romances to the majestic Grande Sonate.
This first volume of John Cage’s complete works for flute spans a fifty year period, from the Three Pieces for Flute Duet of 1935—deft studies in chromatic writing—to the 1984 Ryoanji, which involves the use of pre-recorded flutes and percussion with resultant diverse and intricate textures. Two is the first of Cage’s important ‘number’ series and is edgily ruminative, while Music for Two, written for any combination of the 17 different instrumental ‘parts without scores’ provided by the composer, is heard in an arrangement described by Katrin Zenz as a ‘new piece for flute and piano’.
The contents of the EMI box are too numerous to list but all the sonatas, variations, and most short pieces are here: absent is the London Sketchbook, which is trite juvenalia.
On the four previous installments in Timpani's series of the orchestral works of Iannis Xenakis, Arturo Tamayo and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg have presented highly varied and volatile works from different periods of the composer's career and have provided an excellent overview of his output. This fifth volume focuses on the early orchestral works, which brought architect and mathematician Xenakis world renown as a cutting-edge composer and put him in direct opposition to the serial establishment.
The fourth volume of Timpani's series of orchestral works by Iannis Xenakis presents four works from three distinct periods, though not in chronological order. Erikhthon for piano and orchestra (1974) is one of the "arborescent" or branch-like compositions from Xenakis' middle phase. Expanding and contracting through criss-crossing glissandi and bending clusters, the extremely loud and aggressive orchestra overwhelms the impossibly dense and struggling piano part; in this role reversal, Erikhthon may be regarded as the absolute antithesis of the conventional piano concerto. Ata (1987) is a late work, contrapuntal in nature but with the difference that the polyphonic lines are all tightly bunched in clusters; it also features a sly reference to Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, which is unexpected and hilarious.