Author Topic: Contemporary Russian composers  (Read 9972 times)

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Offline Pierre

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Contemporary Russian composers
« on: July 22, 2007, 08:52:03 AM »
I've listened again to an album I bought some time ago when in St Petersburg - of piano music by Leonid Desyatnikov (performed by Ksenia Knorre and Alexey Goribol). I particularly enjoy his neo-classical Nachklange aus dem Theater: witty and tuneful (which makes him much closer to Poulenc than to Stravinsky, yet without his soft-centred sentimentality). I was originally interested in him because of the hoo-haah over an opera he wrote for Moscow's Bolshoi ('Mozart's Children', I think it was called; alas I never saw it), which is why I bought the album.

Anyway, it's made me think we've got a rather lop-sided view of Russian (or I mean, rather, former-Soviet composer) music, with a tendency to only hear the tenebrous and tortured style of such composers as Shostakovich, Silvestrov and Kancheli. I don't think Desyatnikov is trivial, but he manages somehow to 'say' things in a light manner. Any other composers like him?
« Last Edit: July 22, 2007, 09:46:18 AM by Pierre »

S709

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2007, 09:22:22 AM »
I don't know this composer but some other modern Russians writing in a lighter style are Vladimir Martynov and Nikolai Korndorff. Both have written somewhat minimalist pieces, for example the hypnotic and beautiful "Come in!" by Martynov, and the Lullaby for 2 pianos by Korndorff.

Another is Alexandre Rabinovitch -- I've only heard what is on this CD, played by Alexei Lubimov; this disc also includes my favorite 'lighter composer' of recent years -- Georgs Pelecis. Though he is Latvian. :)

I'm sure there are more out there.



S709

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2007, 09:30:57 AM »
Another composer to watch (but who no longer lives in Russia) is Victoria Borisova-Ollas.

Her virtuosic orchestral piece "Wings of the Wind" was featured on an EMI "Debut Masterprize" disc and that is all I've heard -- but it made quite an impression! Her site is: http://www.borisova-ollas.com/ if you want more information.

BTW Maciek has started a thread about composers from Belarus: composers from that country seem to be writing mostly neo-classical or neo-romantic works; an example being Dmitry Lybin. That is not exactly on topic but I think somewhat close. :)

Here is the link.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2007, 09:32:34 AM by Xantus' Murrelet »

Offline Pierre

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2007, 09:33:22 AM »
Thanks for the tips, Xantus. I guess it'll be a while before I get to hear some of this music (all those names are new to me), but I look forward to getting hold of 'em!

Kullervo

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2007, 09:37:56 AM »
What about Mosolov? I've heard bits of his piano music and it sounds pretty intriguing. Anyone more familiar with him?

Offline Pierre

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2007, 09:48:09 AM »
What about Mosolov? I've heard bits of his piano music and it sounds pretty intriguing. Anyone more familiar with him?

He's certainly intriguing. However I was actually after contemporary composers - my fault, I should have been more careful in labelling the thread.

Offline Maciek

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2007, 09:50:29 AM »
What about Mosolov? I've heard bits of his piano music and it sounds pretty intriguing. Anyone more familiar with him?

His Iron Foundry (from 1927!) is pure genius. I think Mosolov can be ranked alongside Varese. Amazingly enough, he died in 1973 - so he's almost contemporary. ;)

sidoze

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2007, 10:12:40 AM »
However I was actually after contemporary composers - my fault, I should have been more careful in labelling the thread.

You should try Boris Tishchenko. He was Shostakovich's closest--and I think favourite--pupil, and has released a book of his correspondence with him. His works are long, ingeniously devised pieces for solo, chamber and orchestral forces. They often start out with a very simple theme, or perhaps more accuriately a fragment of a theme, and build up to very powerful emotional climaxes before subsiding. Perhaps his best known work--and my favourite by far--is his Violin Concerto 2, once available on Olympia but long out-of-print. It is a 50 minute work which ranges from impish fun to harrowing outbursts (and if I'm going to be honest, the second movement violin cadenza is rather tiresome) and overall it has a very strong impact. It's gained something of a cult following in the classical music world (several posters at RMCR love it too). Other than that, Russiandvd offer(ed) a disc containing his Harp Concerto (wonderful) and his early cello concerto played by Rostropovich (excellent too, intense as usual, I think you can stream this disc from their website). The Russian label Northern Flowers has released several recordings including a few symphonies and a ballet (I heard the ballet but it didn't leave much of an impression at the time). There's also a disc of Rostropovich conducting his Cello Concerto nr. 2 and this one I found just plain awful -- too repetitive (he often repeats figures to build them up, and it went way too far here IMO) and not as intense as I'd like. Olympia also released his Sym 5 conducted by Rozhdestvensky but I haven't heard that one. I've heard a couple CDs of his piano sontas too -- one of them with bells, a huge 50 minute piece which I found more testing than reading The Anatomy of Melancholy. I listened to it twice -- never again.

If you like Shostakovich, you might like Tishchenko, as he shares a similar feel in terms of humour and intensity. Of course you probably don't want this, so I'll cut to the chase.

To sum up: look for the VC 2, see if you can stream his Harp Concerto from Russian DVD (I seem to recall that it wasn't possible to play all of it but I tried that years ago before buying the disc), and perhaps try some of the new releases from Russian Flowers. I believe one of the releases contains his Blockade Symphony and that should be worth hearing.

EDIT: someone is selling the Olympia discs on Ebay now, including the VC2.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2007, 10:18:51 AM by sidoze »

Offline edward

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2007, 10:22:08 AM »
And don't forget the Naxos recording of Tishchenko's Seventh, surely the cheapest and most available of his works. I don't think it's a masterpiece, but I give it a spin once in a while.
"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 Pierre

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Re: Modern Russian composers
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2007, 10:47:53 AM »
EDIT: someone is selling the Olympia discs on Ebay now, including the VC2.

Sidoze - thanks for the tip-off, but alas my bid wasn't high enough to outbid the guy who got there first. I'll look out for those, though.

sidoze

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2007, 12:46:10 PM »
And don't forget the Naxos recording of Tishchenko's Seventh, surely the cheapest and most available of his works. I don't think it's a masterpiece, but I give it a spin once in a while.

I forgot about that one. It's makes for a good listen, fun, beautiful at times and entertaining with novel touches. I think of it as if he wrote it for children, but maybe that's just me. I think it's far off the pace of VC 2 though, which could be argued to be a modern masterpiece I guess. I wish I had a copy of it right now  ::)

Drasko

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2007, 12:53:43 PM »
It's makes for a good listen, fun, beautiful at times and entertaining with novel touches.

You mean the whizzing bits, what on earth he used there? I have that and the Cello Concerto and none of them made me wish to explore Tishchenko any further.

Offline jurajjak

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2007, 01:07:46 PM »
If you're looking for a slightly lighter Soviet composer, you might try Andrei Eshpai--he has a number of accessible symphonies, and various orchestral works that, though informed by folk material, are several steps above socialist realism.  I recently heard his ballet "A Circle: Apocalypse," a sometimes bizarre concoction of 70's fusion jazz and brass-heavy, Shostakovich-style orchestral bombast.  One of his best-known pieces, the Concerto Grosso for Trumpet, Piano, Vibraphone, and Double-Bass, is excellent, and in my opinion is just as good, if not better than, Leonard Bernstein's attempts at classical-jazz fusion.  He has also a good saxophone concerto.

I've tried to listen to as much Mossolov as I can find.  His Piano Concerto #1 is sometimes staggering, and contains a final, pseudo-jazzy scherzo movement with virtuosic woodwind writing that is just mind-boggling (it's available on a rare Melodiya CD).  I've heard a number of his piano sonatas, some songs, a couple of quartets, and miscellaneous piano music--it's all valuable, though I think he was so wrapped up in modernism that he was incapable of writing quiet music.  Even his Nocturnes for Piano are noisy.  His short opera, "The Hero," was revived in Germany in 1989, and supposedly is brilliant.  Unfortunately, as far as I know some of his works are lost (i.e., some of the symphonies), and after the 30s he was "rehabilitated" by the Stalinists (i.e., sent to a concentration camp), and thereafter had to abandon his modernist ways.  His Cello Concerto of the late 1930s is dull and hardly recognizable as an authentic work.

I recall reading an excerpt from one of Prokofiev's diaries of the 1920's, where he described judging a piano competition of various up-and-coming Soviet composers.  Prokofiev ranked Mossolov at the top, and recommended him even above Shostakovich as the young composer to watch.


Andrew

sidoze

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2007, 01:13:14 PM »
You mean the whizzing bits, what on earth he used there?

If you mean that part in the first movement, I believe it's from trombone glissandi. I no longer have the recording though.

Quote
I have that and the Cello Concerto and none of them made me wish to explore Tishchenko any further.

The first cello concerto (with Rostropovich)? That's a good one, but not a mature work. I think he was in his late teens or early twenties when he finished it. Still, it's a lot better than the later one IMO.

Quote
His Piano Concerto #1 is sometimes staggering, and contains a final, pseudo-jazzy scherzo movement with virtuosic woodwind writing that is just mind-boggling (it's available on a rare Melodiya CD).

Would it be at all possible to upload that for us to hear? I didn't even know he wrote PCs.

S709

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2007, 05:58:04 AM »
I'll upload the Mosolov PC 1 if someone hasn't already -- is SendSpace okay?

It's a great piece, full of energy.

S709

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2007, 06:24:59 AM »
Here it is, if something is wrong I will re-upload...

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. I mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/6qlkes

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. II mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/jplyy8

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. III mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4essez

Drasko

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2007, 07:12:56 AM »
Here it is, if something is wrong I will re-upload...

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. I mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/6qlkes

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. II mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/jplyy8

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. III mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4essez

Great, thanks!

Kullervo

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2007, 07:23:16 AM »
Here it is, if something is wrong I will re-upload...

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. I mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/6qlkes

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. II mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/jplyy8

Piano concerto N.1 op.14. III mov. (1926-27).mp3:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4essez

Thanks Chris.

S709

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2007, 09:23:27 AM »
Enjoy!  :)

Another composer who I forgot about is Alexander Knaifel. He is a versatile composer but most of the music I've heard by him could be likened to something quasi-'holy minimalist' but that is just a vague hint. His piece "Psalm 51", for solo cello was recorded by Rostropovich and it is a huge, meditative, expansive work. This is on the "Amicte Sole" CD; that piece too is long and meditative, perhaps 'spiritual' is a good word by I mean it only as a hint of the flavor of the music.

There are very good reviews of Knaifel's music on Amazon, I will find links to them (or if someone else feels like it, go ahead! :) )


S709

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Re: Contemporary Russian composers
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2007, 09:34:28 AM »
Here are the two best-known Knaifel CDs with reviews:





I'm listening to Amicta Sole again and it is quite beautiful... I would strongly recommend it to anyone who likes Gorecki 3, John Tavener's best choral works, and so on. For anyone who is mistrustful of those, stay away. :p