Author Topic: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)  (Read 4079 times)

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Offline foxandpeng

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Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« on: September 10, 2021, 12:47:42 AM »
High time Tabakov had his own thread ;D.

Emil Tabakov is a Bulgarian composer, conductor, and double-bass player. He was trained at the Bulgarian State Music Academy in Sofia, where he studied conducting with Vladi Simeonov, double bass with Todor Toshev, and composition with Marin Goleminov, and earned diplomas in all three subjects. He has held several high profile positions, including Music Director and Conductor of the Sofia Soloists Chamber Orchestra from 1979-1987, two stints as Principal Conductor of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra from 1994-2000, and in 2014 he became the conductor of the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was also Bulgarian Minister of Culture in 1997!

As of 2021, Tabakov has written ten symphonies, but there are also concertos for percussion, two flutes, piano, cello and viola, amongst other works. So far, his symphonic output is most notable amongst his recorded compositions.

Symphony No. 1 (1981) (recorded on Balkanton and a second recording on Toccata Classics TOCC 0410)
Symphony No. 2 (1984) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0562)
Symphony No. 3 (1988) (recorded on Balkanton 030077)
Symphony No. 4 (1997) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0467)
Symphony No. 5 (2000) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0530)
Symphony No. 6 (2001) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0562)
Symphony No. 7 (2005) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0597)
Symphony No. 8 (2010) (recorded on Toccata Classics TOCC 0365)
Symphony No. 9 (2015)
Symphony No. 10 (2019)

His primary influences are noted as being Shostakovich, Brahms, Scriabin and Richard Strauss and reviews suggest that he is likely to be of interest to those who are fans of Prokofiev, Shostakovich or Shchedrin. I would also add in Pettersson and Mahler to that list.

Tabakov primarily composes during the summer months, with a style described as exploring the darker side of the human spirit in epic scores as austere as they are powerful, bleak and gripping in equal measure, and showing a grim sense of humour in the teeth of the dancing indifference of fate. Words used to describe his symphonies range from tonal, aggressive, obsessive and violent, filled with wild kaleidoscopes of whirling colours and driving energy, angst-ridden, grief-stricken, effervescent and dissonant, menacing, brooding and threatening :)

It's difficult to recommend an obvious starting point for Tabakov's symphonies, only because they are all pretty gripping, in my opinion.

Current favourites are #8, #2, #1 and #5, although the rest really aren't far behind. The Viola Concerto is great :)

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline relm1

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2021, 05:01:34 AM »
I like his #7.  Basically, I like what I've heard and enjoy the Toccata series.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2021, 05:22:17 AM »
Ah, #7 is great. I love its epic grandeur and scope. It doesn't quite have the 'nails against a chalkboard' atmosphere of some of the other symphonies (even though it is still infused with that angsty Tabakovian thing that he does so well), but it delivers what it promises with harsh cigarettes and black-and-white-film starkness. Good old threatening brass, menacing percussive drama and disquieting funereal pain, blended with darkness and human misery :)  ;D

One review talks about the finale of #7 really powerfully:

The finale begins with a slow introduction which sets out the material on which the movement will be based. An air of menace soon establishes itself, and soon an inexorably rising tide of encroaching darkness overwhelms the scene. A momentary return to an innocent rising motif from the opening prefaces the main allegro section. This is dominated by a crisp, domineering brass motif and a rapid percussion tattoo, and any attempts by oases of light and air to penetrate the amassing steely hurricane are doomed to early failure. The gathering momentum of this movement must be among the most thrilling, and terrifying, descents into hell ever depicted in Western art. A final, fleeting glimpse of the light of heaven at infinite distance - and the roiling inferno closes in forever.

Drama much? But I get the point. Guy's not wrong :)

I like Rob Barnett's comparison to RVW #4. Different, but kind of the same. But different.

Glad you are a fan :)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2021, 05:49:50 AM by foxandpeng »
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline André

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2021, 07:53:02 AM »
I only have #4 at the moment (plus his big Orchestral Piece). 3 more discs (4 symphonies) are on their way. I should receive them late next week. Tabakov develops a full head of steam (and decibels) in his works, but there is substance aplenty. I look forward to hear them.

He is also a well-recorded conductor, with Mahler and Shostakovich symphonies and a Verdi Requiem under his belt. I don’t think I have explored that facet of his art.

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2021, 12:11:44 PM »
I've sampled some of his symphonies on Spotify, and I immediately thought of Pettersson too. Very grim, stark, serious works from beginning to end... but really compelling in their own way. Yet another composer I intend to explore further!
So much great music, so little time...

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2021, 10:48:15 PM »
I only have #4 at the moment (plus his big Orchestral Piece). 3 more discs (4 symphonies) are on their way. I should receive them late next week. Tabakov develops a full head of steam (and decibels) in his works, but there is substance aplenty. I look forward to hear them.


I've sampled some of his symphonies on Spotify, and I immediately thought of Pettersson too. Very grim, stark, serious works from beginning to end... but really compelling in their own way. Yet another composer I intend to explore further!

Looking forward to hearing your impressions!
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline DavidUK

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2022, 09:50:18 AM »
Currently listening to my first Tabakov symphony, No5, and all I can say is blimey.......!

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2022, 10:32:37 AM »
Currently listening to my first Tabakov symphony, No5, and all I can say is blimey.......!

+1

#5 is amongst my favourite Tabakov symphonies, and amongst my favourite works by a living composer. I love its immense, swirling power and those brief interludes when you get to catch a breath before being caught up all over again in the maelstrom. There's just no space for your interest to wander off. Outstanding from beginning to end.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline DavidUK

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2022, 11:07:05 AM »
+1

#5 is amongst my favourite Tabakov symphonies, and amongst my favourite works by a living composer. I love its immense, swirling power and those brief interludes when you get to catch a breath before being caught up all over again in the maelstrom. There's just no space for your interest to wander off. Outstanding from beginning to end.
I don't know about 'wander off', but you certainly won't nod off!  I love these violent, noisy, turbulent symphonies but I think even I could only listen to one Tabakov symphony per day if the others are similar. 

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2022, 11:35:34 AM »
I don't know about 'wander off', but you certainly won't nod off!  I love these violent, noisy, turbulent symphonies but I think even I could only listen to one Tabakov symphony per day if the others are similar.

I know what you mean. There is an intensity of angst/anger/passion etc., that is pretty demanding. Despite the difference between them, I put him in the same category as Pettersson, whose symphonies can be equally emotionally relentless. Having said that, in the right mood, I can run Tabakov back to back because he refuses to lie down and give up in the face of existential crises. I kind of like that - he seems to thunder back at everything.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline André

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2022, 04:12:59 PM »
I’ve listened 4 times to no 7 this week. I’ve now heard all the symphonies recorded on Toccata. As usual with this composer the work impresses and disorients at first. Repeated listenings allow the parts to cohere and the work’s design and its prevalent mood to be grasped. I was most impressed by the godzilla-ish swirling dervish third movement. A simple rythmic pattern heard on the flute becomes a giant, crushing whirlwind going through the whole orchestra. A real tour-de-force. I was reminded of Hagrid’s stupid giant brother in Harry Potter.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2022, 02:49:59 AM »
Cross-posting from WAYLT to keep this thread current, and because Tabakov's potency and painfully relevant music requires some ongoing advocacy. For every soothing and hopeful Vasks, there is a tortured necessity for high volume angst, I think. Such is the need in the human condition.

In light of the impending September release of Emil Tabakov's Symphony #9 on Toccata Classics, I have been listening to the rest of the label's cycle of recordings. I make no secret of how outstanding and significant I find Tabakov's symphonic output, and look forward hugely to his latest contribution. There is a deeply emotional resonance for me in these works. At a time when society overuses superlatives about absolutely everything,  I don't want to join my voice to a meaningless cacophony of pet-project platitudes. Having said that, Tabakov continues to be weighty, imbued with gravitas, and with a needed response to our torrid times and existential unease.

I find him cathartic, whether in the maelstrom of #7, the ominous #1, or this afternoon's ethereal and otherworldly #3.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline j winter

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2022, 10:11:54 AM »
I remember picking up this set about 10 years ago for the price of a sandwich...  Might be interesting to see if any traces of the composer's own style can be heard in how he approaches Mahler...


 
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2022, 01:50:58 AM »
Awesome composer. Only heard the first disc of the Toccata set but I would love to explore further.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2022, 01:46:11 AM »
Awesome composer. Only heard the first disc of the Toccata set but I would love to explore further.

Yes. Filled with fine ideas, crashing emotion, intensity, tunes, catastrophism, resilience, and unexpected beauty. This week's disc is probably symphonies 2 and 6, which I recommend unreservedly. Apart from #9 which is due on Friday.

Is it Friday yet?

Emil Tabakov
Complete Symphonies Volume 2
Symphony 1
Emil Tabakov
Bulgarian NRSO
Toccata


I have started my working week with Tabakov. Atmospheric and emotionally charged. I am considering upgrading Tabakov to 'Greatest Living Composer of Symphonies' status, just so you know. Happy to hear suggestions of rivals, but you will need to work hard to convince me. I do want you to do it, though.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline relm1

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2022, 04:54:13 AM »
Cross-posting from WAYLT to keep this thread current, and because Tabakov's potency and painfully relevant music requires some ongoing advocacy. For every soothing and hopeful Vasks, there is a tortured necessity for high volume angst, I think. Such is the need in the human condition.

In light of the impending September release of Emil Tabakov's Symphony #9 on Toccata Classics, I have been listening to the rest of the label's cycle of recordings. I make no secret of how outstanding and significant I find Tabakov's symphonic output, and look forward hugely to his latest contribution. There is a deeply emotional resonance for me in these works. At a time when society overuses superlatives about absolutely everything,  I don't want to join my voice to a meaningless cacophony of pet-project platitudes. Having said that, Tabakov continues to be weighty, imbued with gravitas, and with a needed response to our torrid times and existential unease.

I find him cathartic, whether in the maelstrom of #7, the ominous #1, or this afternoon's ethereal and otherworldly #3.

I thought this recording of Tabakov's No. 3 and Astral Music was great.  Very robust and intense!

Offline hvbias

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2022, 12:50:38 PM »
foxandpeng I commend you for the superb first post- detailed, informative, and great descriptions. I've made a note to hear the first symphony. Also when doing a Google/Qobuz search I could not find any photos of him smiling, also a good sign  ;D
"I feel very strongly about Chopin — I just love him" - Fou Ts'ong

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2022, 10:15:17 PM »
foxandpeng I commend you for the superb first post- detailed, informative, and great descriptions. I've made a note to hear the first symphony. Also when doing a Google/Qobuz search I could not find any photos of him smiling, also a good sign  ;D

Ha. Cheers. Good old internet, huh? I prefer a grimacing Tabakov, I think. Symphony 1 is as good a place as any to explore the symphonies - would love to hear your thoughts!

Only one more day until #9 is released!
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Offline hvbias

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2022, 03:58:24 PM »
Listened to symphony 1, I might need some time to adjust to what I just heard ;D  In the first movement it's sort of an all out assault on the senses, like this is blackness, where do you escape. But then there is some much needed respite with the second movement that continues in the last movement but still an overall grim work. With the powerful opening fanfare with horns and how heavily it was used throughout the first movement I assumed that was how it was going to carry on throughout the entire symphony but they are more sparse in the second and third movement. I loved the cello writing most of all, as well as the beautiful tune in the second movement.

Of all the composers named so far I think Pettersson is the most apt comparison.

Very much looking forward to hearing more.
"I feel very strongly about Chopin — I just love him" - Fou Ts'ong

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Emil Tabakov (born August 21, 1947)
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2022, 04:38:07 AM »
Predictable cross post today from WAYLT. Release day has been long overdue and much anticipated!

Emil Tabakov
Complete Symphonies Volume 7
Concerto for 15 Strings
Symphony 9
Emil Tabakov
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra


I have only listened to the Symphony 9 so far, but here are some initial thoughts.

This is as outstanding as I hoped it might be. Fraught and frantic, atmospheric and funereal (those bells in the Presto!), edgy and anxious, ponderous and reflective... it has lots of the nails on chalkboard that Tabakov does so well. This is 3am music, when the darkness feels deepest and the emotions feel most fragile. Edvard Munch would be proud. I wish I understood the technicalities of the music well enough to be able to analyse, comment and add value to your decision whether or not to invest time in listening, but you will have to make do with an effusive endorsement from an enthusiastic amateur. No feel-good factor in this, but lots of painful human experience and raw honesty. There was a metal band some years ago who carried as their strapline, 'Grim Northern Bastards' - mere amateurs compared to Tabakov. It is a live recording, but clearly the recording values are high quality and the players do a real number on this performance. No hints of background noise or audience intrusions - they wouldn't dare, I suspect.

Tabakov continues to be the emotional successor to all that I have heard by Pettersson, and long may his composing reign as an utter force of nature and skill. 5 stars for me.

Listened to symphony 1, I might need some time to adjust to what I just heard ;D  In the first movement it's sort of an all out assault on the senses, like this is blackness, where do you escape. But then there is some much needed respite with the second movement that continues in the last movement but still an overall grim work. With the powerful opening fanfare with horns and how heavily it was used throughout the first movement I assumed that was how it was going to carry on throughout the entire symphony but they are more sparse in the second and third movement. I loved the cello writing most of all, as well as the beautiful tune in the second movement.

Of all the composers named so far I think Pettersson is the most apt comparison.

Very much looking forward to hearing more.

I am thrilled that Symphony 1 has been so valuable for you, my friend. The rest of his oeuvre will be a journey of real discovery for you, I believe! Great to read your reflections 😔 👍
« Last Edit: September 02, 2022, 04:46:07 AM by foxandpeng »
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy