Author Topic: The Denisov Dabbler  (Read 8107 times)

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snyprrr

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The Denisov Dabbler
« on: July 15, 2009, 09:35:21 PM »
One of my favorite composers... in theory. Thread under construction.

« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 02:42:45 PM by snyprrr »

Sean

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Re: Edison Denisov
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2009, 12:28:25 AM »
I know the Double viola and harpsichord concerto, Reflections (piano), Flute concerto and the Requiem: these last two are particularly fine, the Requiem quite unusual and hinting at the Ligeti.

snyprrr

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Re: Edison Denisov
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2009, 06:16:19 PM »
I'm having a hard time wanting to write about Denisov. He's one of those composers I got interested in and then started slogging through recordings until I relented! I had both versions of the Symphony, as if in an attempt to convince me it was a masterpiece? It may be, but, ultimately it's dour demeanor did me in. All I can think is Bach meets Berg minus Gorecki (?!?) in that... oh, I don't want to explain it. Can anyone help me out here?

The BIS disc with the concertos you mention is probably the best all around introduction to Denisov, no? There are few other all Denisov discs... a couple with Sun of the Incas, his '60s debut, the Symphony, Piano Concerto, the discs you mentioned...

I enjoy Denisov's late '80s flowering of chamber music, including the Clarinet Quintet, the Piano Quintet, and the Four Pieces for SQ (only one of which is recorded). They are all four mvmt. Ligeti-sounding perfections of "avant classical," very delicate, crystalline, magical, and explosive. Many composers seem to have hit on this style at the same time in late '80s, early '90s... I'm thinking of variations on late Berio (like Castiglioni).

The Denisov discography is typically frustrating, but there are some really interesting and expensive >:D recitals out there, including a Pierre Verany disc with Claude Delangle and Percussions de Strassbourg, and a disc of flute, piano, and percussion works performed by Denisov's son, Dimitri (did he like Shosty, hmm?), on flute.

There are a couple of Le Chant du Monde discs of violin, cello, and piano sonatas, trios, and quintets,... a couple of Mobile Fidelity discs... others???

I believe his vocal music is fairly well served. That Requiem does sound very interesting. Schnittke, Ligeti...

I guess my only real point in this ramble is that even though it appears that there are a lot of Denisov pieces out there, there is something vaguely unsettling in the inconsistancy. Denisov is still a very piecemeal affair, and the cds I want are either hopelessly OOP or literally cost about $100, so...

I'm concerned that there's another Denisov thread around here.

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Dacha
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2009, 10:20:28 AM »
I finally got a copy of the Chant du Monde "Chamber Works" disc, with Rudin and Armengaud, of the cello/piano works, the Quintet for Piano and SQ, and the piano piece, Reflets. Now, along with the MobileFidelity disc, I have all the Denisov chamber music one needs to get started!

Denisov's Sonata for cello and Piano (1971) MAY BE THE FIRST WORK THAT SETS THE SEAL ON dENISOV'S MATURE STYLE (SORRY CAPS). It's short and sweet, or not, and should make a very nice make weight for Schnittke's sonata. The earlier Three Pieces are even more Webernesque.

I had been waiting to hear the 1989 Quintet for some while, having already heard the Clarinet Quintet. (I believe there is a disc with the two quintets and the Flute Quartet altogether) Hearing this piece reminds me how Denisov sounds like a slightly slower Castiglioni. Both have that plastic up-and-down chromatic filigree lilt. In a way, Denisov can remind me of a very busy Feldman, in the anonymity of it all. Some may think this is all dreadfully boring stuff, and I do not deny that there are reminders here, but ultimately I feel that Denisov came to this stuff on his own, and was certainly one of the first, and best, IMO, of the second wave of composers coming to like at the end of the '60s-early '70s (Rihm, etc...).

Add to this the single track of Denisov's 4mvmt. SQ on the Arditti's "From Vienna", and you start to get a feel for what this music CAN sound like with super players (the playing on the Chant du Monde can't compare, and it's recorded just a bit dry- not the optimum for such wispy and intangible music).

Certainly, the flute disc with Denisov's son is intriguing, as is that cd with the Strassbourg percussion outfit and saxophonist Claude Delangle (which brings up the sax sonata).

We probably won't be geting too many more Denisov discs, I presume, but I think we have enough out there to be able to get a good selection of the "good" stuff (remember, he can be a slight bit uneven).

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2010, 05:31:58 PM »
ahhh,...no love whatsoever! >:D

Well, I finally got a hold of this PierreVerany cd that has the Sonata for Saxophone and Piano (1971), 3 Pieces for Percussion Ensemble (late '80s), 3 Pieces for 2Pianos (1967), and the Piccolo Concerto (1977) for saxophone and six percussionists.

Claude Delangle and the Percussions de Strasbourg are the featured artists, and, besides a very close, and dynamic, recording (much percussion time seems to be spent verrrry quietly), the music and performances are all intriguing. Denisov is just a mysterious composer, and that's all there is to it!

The Sonata is a very tough, nutty piece, seemingly the perfect combo of serialismo and hard jazz. This is quite a piece. I'd like to hear some other opinions.

The main problem with this cd is that it makes me want more. In the pinch, I got the Complete Piano Works by Jean Pierre Armengaud (?), on Mandala (HM). I have the other chamber discs mentioned in the previous post, so I thought this would supplement nicely.

There are early, Bartokian Bagatelles, which are followed by the Variations of 1961. I plan to compare with Castiglioni later, but, I just find these composers who got there start around 1959 really interesting.

The main draw hear in Signes et Blanc (White Signs; 1974), the most placid, peaceful serialismo I've every heard. Truly, it is a "white" piece, and very much remindful of Castiglioni's upper register wintery chills. Here, Denisov does the same thing for summer!

The follow up piece, Reflets (Reflections: 1986), is the echt Denisov piece. I will admit that he pretty much does Denisov all the time, and, if you want to appreciate Denisov, you have to be discrimminating (not that he's all that well represented). I find him to be slightly creepy in his white perfections, and his aural war between "light" and "dark". Paranoidically speaking, I think Denisov and Crumb should have gotten together!

There are the Variations on a Theme by Handel, which I'll have to recheck, but, to my ears, the last 3 Pieces (or, are they Preludes,...or Etudes?? ???) sum up Denisov very nicely (he has always preferred three mvmt pieces). They are consummate, virtuous, and nobly grave,...tantalizing, just like how I find this composer.

I know, I know,...you think he's boring. :-*

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2010, 09:54:09 PM »
ahhh,...no love whatsoever! >:D

[overview snipped]

I know, I know,...you think he's boring. :-*

Actually, recently I saw a program about him on Russian TV, and it got me intrigued in trying him. Top of his hit list seems to be the Requiem, and that Inca thing. That was the impression I got anyway. What would be a good entry point?

BTW, Moscow's Int'l House of Music (a newish concert venue) has a portrait of him in the lobby, along with other modern composers like Schnittke and Gubaidulina. It's like an updated version of the composer portraits at the Great Hall of the Conservatory, which reflect late 19th-century taste.
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"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Offline edward

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2010, 02:27:19 AM »
Actually, recently I saw a program about him on Russian TV, and it got me intrigued in trying him. Top of his hit list seems to be the Requiem, and that Inca thing. That was the impression I got anyway. What would be a good entry point?
Requiem would be a good start--it's probably my favourite Denisov work; so would any of the viola/orchestra pieces (including the arrangement of the viola concerto as a saxophone concerto. All of these works are in his later, more neo-romantic style (and all utilize his own "motto theme," something I find gets a bit tiresome when you hear it in a dozen different pieces.

Sun of the Incas is my favourite work from his more modernist period. Reviewers of it seem to mention Pierrot and Marteau in relation to it, but I think both references miss the point--it's very much its own piece.

Hopefully there's more in print in Russia than there is in Canada--finding Denisov recordings has always been a frustrating experience for me.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2010, 03:00:07 AM »
Thanks....I'll look around and see what (if anything) I can find. I figure Melodiya at least must have recorded him at some point?

The chamber works mentioned by snyprrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr sound interesting...heard any of 'em?
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Offline False_Dmitry

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2010, 03:19:57 AM »
BTW, Moscow's Int'l House of Music (a newish concert venue) has a portrait of him in the lobby, along with other modern composers like Schnittke and Gubaidulina. It's like an updated version of the composer portraits at the Great Hall of the Conservatory, which reflect late 19th-century taste.

One day they might even programme his music, as well as putting up his picture ;)
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Offline edward

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2010, 03:21:57 AM »
Thanks....I'll look around and see what (if anything) I can find. I figure Melodiya at least must have recorded him at some point?

The chamber works mentioned by snyprrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr sound interesting...heard any of 'em?
Offhand, I know Melodiya recorded the first Chamber Symphony, Requiem and Sun of the Incas (all of which are very representative of the composer), plus some more minor works.

I've heard quite a few of the chamber works snyprrr mentions--I fear I am at risk of underselling them when I say that for me they have a slight tendency to blur into each other (the earlier works having a little too undigested Western avant-garde influences; the later ones tending to a certain repetitiveness of emotional affect and thematic material--as if all painted in shades of grey). Which isn't to say they aren't worth hearing, merely that I found a certain level of diminishing returns the more I heard. YMMV, obviously.

I note Sean's comment about the flute concerto--I heard it once on BBC radio and thought it was a fine piece; never had a chance for a second hearing, sadly. As for the first symphony, it's beautiful but ultimately rather dull, and the climactic payoff isn't worth the effort. There is apparently a second symphony, but I've never heard it.

Edit: I knew there was a major work I'd missed out--the song cycle Bonfire of Snow, based on poems by Alexandr Blok. Definitely one of his best works to my ear.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 05:13:08 AM by edward »
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2010, 04:02:49 AM »
One day they might even programme his music, as well as putting up his picture ;)

That would be cool  8)  I ain't holding my breath though  >:(
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

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snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2010, 01:33:04 PM »
Wow! Love returns :-*!

Yes, Denisov works can blur, and yes, his "motto" theme is pervasive, and yes, I think anyone might find, mmm, let's say, the Symphony (the big one, not either of the Chamber Symphonies) might just have it's longeurs.

But, as was stated, if one is sensitive and open minded to what I consider an extremely nuanced composer (perhaps it is the endless "nuance" that some may find sleepy), I think one will find music that begs to be listened to in the wee hours, when the snow is falling, and one's thoughts turn towards the spiritual battle between light and dark.

Chamber Works:

The main three works are the Piano Qnt., the Clarinet Qnt., and the Flute Qrt. They were all written in the late '80s, and bear all the hallmarks that have been mentioned in earlier posts.

The Cello Sonata, String Trio, Piano Trio, and the other cello, piano, and violin pieces come mostly from the late '60s/early '70s, and are more strictly serialist, though, within that pigeonhole, Denisov certainly distinguishes himself with tight, spunky, and pointal figures.



As far as the Requiem,... can that cd still be got? I thought I scoured all the Amazons with no copies available.

And, that BIS disc is still going for $20 everywhere! >:D

I had both the Erato aaaand Melodiya versions of the Symphony,...ok, maybe even I found it slightly uh at the time; however, it may be time,... which is the version of preference?

The Chamber Symphonies 1-2  have always been on the back burner, but their availability is also questionable (I know, I know,...Olympia and Triton).

Whaaat? I've been writing for 40mins??? :o Gotta go....


snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Duma: CC & VC
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 09:21:56 AM »
I have just heard D's Cello Concerto (1971), and it is quite something. I have always had it on TheList, thinking that it must be some kind of missing link between DSCH and Schnittke, so, I always thought that it would have something different (even though I can sometimes get suspicious about Denisov).

Well, it's nice and dark, with interesting bits for electric guitar and saxophone. It all kind of sounds like DSCH-meets-Lutosl-meets-Penderecki-meets-Schnittke. The elec. guitar is one of its cooler contributions of the HippieEra. All in all, I'm lifting up this 17min. creepshow as one of the Great Russian Concertos.

I also heard the Violin Concerto (1977), with Gideon Kremer. It starts of with a solo violin toccata (kind of like Xenakis in his toccata mode: one figure reiterated without too much variation) over which the orchestra slowly introduces itself. I wasn't too taken with this until it went on for so long that I started noticing Kremer's demonic playing, which is quite something.

The second mvmt. is more like traditional Denisov, though here he is quite creepy, even introducing a children's theme (a la Amityville Horror) that gets raped by the orchestra. This mvmt. comes very close to the macabre/morbid feeling that I've been going on about in the Schoenberg Thread. Denisov surely has that disintegrated, molding societal commentary, the battle between light and dark.

I was really surprised by the VC. Sure, a lot of Denisov has the same, pale, profile, but, as I've just heard, he knows more than one way to skin the BlackCat!

BOTTOM LINE: I didn't really like the Piano Concerto (3mvmt., very typically "agitato" and "tranquillo"), but, the CC and VC fill in crucial aspects of D's personality. I really have to get my hands on a cheap copy of that BIS cd, and Requiem.

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2011, 08:35:30 PM »
bump

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Duma
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2011, 11:58:17 AM »
Yun and Denisov both wrote two Chamber Symphonies a piece, late in their respective careers. The seem also to follow a similar Late trajectory.

Offline Sandra

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Re: Denisov's Lighbulb
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2011, 05:25:38 PM »
I can't remember the title of a book I read on Shostakovich in which Denisov is interviewed. In that long interview, he's every sentence is full of gossip and dislike of other composers. He was quite a character!

I do enjoy his chamber music though. I think he was a very creative composer. I prefer him over schnittke.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say... Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!" - J. Sibelius

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Lighbulb
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2011, 09:01:00 AM »
I can't remember the title of a book I read on Shostakovich in which Denisov is interviewed. In that long interview, he's every sentence is full of gossip and dislike of other composers. He was quite a character!

I do enjoy his chamber music though. I think he was a very creative composer. I prefer him over schnittke.

What do you have?

The only disc I don't have is that Melodiya-looking blue cd of Chamber Works (PQ5, ClQ5, FlQ5),... the samples indicate a close up recording, which doesn't seem to flatter his style (he does need a little 'room')... however, I do enjoy the other misc. Russian-type discs.

Yea on the Schnittke, too. Totally different outlooks.

(funny DSCH stories...)

Offline Sandra

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Re: Denisov's Lighbulb
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2011, 06:07:19 PM »
What do you have?


I haven't been buying CDs since 2005. I bought about a 400 CDs between 1998 and 2005. But about 80 percent of them are now on YouTube, with some landscape as their background. Today's it the %80, tomorrow it'll be hundred percent.. So I haven't bothered to take the time to buy and organize CDs, since people are sharing it this way.

So, a lot of chamber music by Denisov is on YouTube, and that's where I listen to them.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say... Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!" - J. Sibelius

snyprrr

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Re: Denisov's Lighbulb
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2011, 09:01:07 PM »
I haven't been buying CDs since 2005. I bought about a 400 CDs between 1998 and 2005. But about 80 percent of them are now on YouTube, with some landscape as their background. Today's it the %80, tomorrow it'll be hundred percent.. So I haven't bothered to take the time to buy and organize CDs, since people are sharing it this way.

So, a lot of chamber music by Denisov is on YouTube, and that's where I listen to them.

Yea, I guess these days 'Waddaya have?' is a relative question. YT certainly is welcome relief to having to Buy-Before-Listen. Whew, THOSE days were rough!

I remember before I met Ebay, I was getting usually only $1-2 trade in on my used cds at the record store,... brrrrr, scary. :o

Offline Sandra

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Re: Denisov's Lighbulb
« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2011, 11:45:27 PM »
Yea, I guess these days 'Waddaya have?' is a relative question. YT certainly is welcome relief to having to Buy-Before-Listen. Whew, THOSE days were rough!

I remember before I met Ebay, I was getting usually only $1-2 trade in on my used cds at the record store,... brrrrr, scary. :o

Most of all, I am happy that organizing it and finding space for music isn't a problem anymore. I like to keep my room simple and free from clutter.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say... Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!" - J. Sibelius