Sonata for violoncello and piano (1983)
String Quartet No. 1 (1974)
Three Postludes (1981/82)
Recorded January 2001
Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt am Main
Valentin Silvestrov is hardly a household name in the United States; however, in the Ukraine, he enjoys a similar standing to that of his Estonian counterpart Arvo Part. But that is where the resemblance ends. Whereas Part in his holy minimalism reinvents techniques that derive from Renaissance practice, Silvestrov's roots are planted in late Romanticism. His music is steeped in all of the emotion and drama that such a stylistic association would imply. Leggiero, pesante is a collection of Silvestrov's chamber music, and as an introduction to the musical world of Silvestrov, this ECM New Series release admirably fits the bill. Most impressive are the performances of the Sonata for violoncello and piano (1983) and the third Postludium by cellist Anja Lechner and pianist Silke Avenhaus. In these works, Silvestrov strives toward a synthetic union between the two instruments. Lechner and Avenhaus achieve this end spectacularly well and manage to blanket the performances in an emotional sensitivity that gives voice to Silvestrov's intentions, yet retains the personality of the performers. Also noteworthy is the Rosamunde Quartet's transparent interpretation of Silvestrov's String Quartet No. 1 (1974) and the composer's own delightful, occasionally hesitant reading of a new work, Hymn 2001. Somewhat less engaging is the first two of the Three Postludes. These works are so wispy and fragmentary that they seem a bit undernourished, although they are in keeping with the rest of the music here. This disc is recommendable on many fronts, but especially so to listeners who find contemporary music scary and out of touch. Leggiero, pesante will likely prove both challenging and pleasing to those who take the plunge. The ECM recording is spacious, but not to the extent that it robs this chamber music of its intimacy.
All Music Guide
This album of chamber music is the first in a series of ECM New Series releases by Valentin Silvestrov, intended to spotlight the work of this important Ukrainian composer in the months and years to come. In addition to the present disc, ECM has already recorded Silvestrov's "Metamusik" and "Postludium" (with Alexander Lubimov, Dennis Russell Davies and the RSO Wien), and "Requiem" (with the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Sirenko, and the choir Dumka under the direction of Evgeny Savchuk). Further Silvestrov releases in preparation include the remarkable cycle "Silent Songs" (1974/77) for voice and piano.
Valentin Silvestrov was born in 1937. He studied piano at the Kiev Evening Music School (1955-58), and composition, harmony and counterpoint at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Kiev from 1958 to 1964. Silvestrov was alert from the outset to new compositional approaches, and an individual lyricism and melodic feeling have been hallmarks of his work through all periods of his artistic development, irrespective of musical styles or systems employed. Together with Leonid Grabovsky, he counts as the leading figure of the "Kiev Avant-garde", which by 1960 was experimenting with 12-tone and aleatoric music and music theatre, in contradistinction to the generally conservative mood of Ukrainian composition.
His early work was briefly heard outside the Soviet Union in the late 1960s: Bruno Maderna conducted Silvestrov's Third Symphony in Darmstadt in 1968, and Boulez presented his work in one of the Domaine Musical concerts. By this point, however, Silvestrov was already distancing himself from dominant trends in modern music.
As musicologist Frans C. Lemaire has noted: "Silvestrov [in 1969] ponders over the meaning of his music, the relation between the past and all things which escape the mechanism of time. He dwells on the relation between historical culture on the one hand and the magical, primitive and perpetual dimension of inspiration ... This is where Silvestrov's music takes a highly interesting and distinctive turn. It becomes impregnated with a slow expressive confidence and exhibits greatly prolonged melodic lines in a post romantic climate that is often reminiscent of Gustav Mahler."
Silvestrov was one of the first composers from the former Soviet Union to cast aside what might be called the "conventional" gestures of the avant-garde, as well as any sense of formulaic "experimentalism". As he has perceptively noted, "the most important lesson of the avant-garde was to be free of all preconceived ideas - particularly those of the avant-garde." This perspective led to the development of an idiom which Silvestrov would eventually come to call "metaphorical style" or "meta-music".
The pieces on the present recording (made with the participation of the composer) were written between 1974 and 2001. The album concludes with the premiere recording of "Hymn 2001", played by Silvestrov himself on piano.
It opens, however, with his intriguing "Sonata for Cello and Piano" of 1983, performed here by Anja Lechner and Silke Avenhaus. In her liner notes, musicologist Tatjana Frumkis writes, "What is entirely unique is the form of the sonata, which stands aloof from the typical structure of the sonata form. This one-movement work follows a different logic; it is informed by a different, hidden meaning. An impetuous, creative gesture opens up a sonic space: a gentle melody on the cello, solicitously underlaid by the 'palms of the piano's hands' (Silvestrov), a muffled murmuring of both instruments ... Everything is pervaded by the effort of commencing, by expectations that it will take the golden section of the work to fulfil. Melody as 'consolation, dedication, catharsis.' Silvestrov's work abounds with such events: they grow from inside, from quiet listening." Such 'events' are not easily snared by even skilled interpreters, and the performers on this recording were glad of Silvestrov's input, both at the session itself and in rehearsals.
Anja Lechner: "It was very important for us to work with Silvestrov. On the printed page his music can seem overloaded with instructions to the player - each bar is freighted with dynamics, ritardandi, accelerandi, and tempo markings. After having internalized all these playing instructions, at the end what is important is that the music should breathe, move and travel like a composed improvisation. I'm a musician who thought she knew what a pianissimo is, because I had always loved to play really softly, when it is needed. But when I met Silvestrov I realised that I still was at the beginning of knowing what it means to play a real pianissimo. He harassed us about still playing too loudly in every phrase. But when he sat down at the piano and played something for us, he introduced us to the most intimate, sensitive, tender, breakable yet still speaking pianissimo. After that, we all understood."
Silke Avenhaus: "Silvestrov is obsessed with the details of the music. Although they don't sound remotely like each other, there are parallels to working with Kurtag, who will also take you deeper and deeper into the sound, into the dynamics." Avenhaus emphasises that for the musician "an intellectual approach to Silvestrov's compositions is absolutely insufficient." The player must feel his or her way into the music to gain a sense of its many subtleties and its emotional depth.
The "String Quartet No. 1" from 1974 is a transitional piece in the composer's oeuvre, embracing romantic, atonal, dodecaphonic, and aleatoric gestures in the course of its subtle flow. Silvestrov likened the opening theme to "a poem about the fate of music in the last two hundred years" The piece has become a staple of the Rosamunde Quartett's concert programme in recent seasons; they negotiate its shadowy and echoic regions with finesse. During the recording, they were aided by the composer, who guided them through its meticulously graded dynamics.
The "Three Postludes" are from 1981/82, and may be performed independently or as a cycle. Postlude I here features the bell-like singing of Maacha Deubner, best known perhaps for her radiant performance of Giya Kancheli's "Exil" (ECM New Series 1535). This first Postlude "decodes" the famous musical monogram of Dmitri Shostakovich (a crucial influence for Silvestrov, as for so many ex Soviet composers), offered as a requiem for a great master.
"Postlude II", for solo violin, is played by the Rosamunde Quartett's Simon Fordham. Tatjana Frumkis: "It is a contemplative song with moments of silence, the characteristic parallelisms and 'Gothic' cadences recalling a canzona da sonar. The melody is enlaced with mysterious, exotic sounds, then suddenly breaks off."
The third Postlude, played by Anja Lechner and Silke Avenhaus, seems to take up the melody from the "Sonata for Cello and Piano" heard earlier, although the influence runs the other way. Historically, the postlude was a "prelude" to the sonata, and was written a year earlier.
Valentin Silvestrov himself adds the "final caesura", with his tender performance of his "Hymn 2001".
Anja Lechner: "Silvestrov has said 'I must write what pleases me and not what others like, not - to quote an apt saying - what the age dictates to me. Otherwise I'm at the mercy of an economic cycle that cripples the imagination. ... I must seek beauty.' And that's something that's very hard to say in our time, and easily misunderstood. In central European new music such words are habitually rejected: beauty, feeling, soul ..."
Anja Lechner studied with Jan Polasek, Janos Starker and Heinrich Schiff. Apart from the traditional repertoire, her solo programmes place a strong accent on contemporary music. Her repertoire includes compositions by Valentin Silvestrov, Giya Kancheli, Alfred Schnittke and Gunter Bialas. She has collaborated with the Argentine bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi and the Ukrainian pianist Misha Alperin. Lechner has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Munich Biennale, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and the European Weeks Passau. Between 1993 and 1998 she held a guest professorship in Chamber Music at the Hochschule fur Musik in Graz. Like Andreas Reiner and Helmut Nicolai, she is a founding member of the Rosamunde Quartett.
Simon Fordham was born in Melbourne in 1965. He began taking violin lessons with Brian Blake at the age of six and continued his studies with Brian Finlayson at the Victorian College of the Arts. Fordham then went to Germany, where he attended the Robert Schumann College of Music in Dusseldorf, completing his solo training with Rosa Fain and attending chamber music courses with the Amadeus Quartet. His career as an orchestra musician began with the German Chamber Academy of Neuss and the Cologne Chamber Orchestra; upon completing his studies, he became a member of the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1991 he joined the Munich Philharmonic to be able to work under Sergiu Celibidache. The following year he became a member of the Rosamunde Quartett, Munich.
The Rosamunde Quartett was formed in Munich by Anja Lechner, Andreas Reiner and Helmut Nicolai in 1991. The first violinist, Andreas Reiner, was born in Vienna and studied with Werner Ehrenhofer and Itzhak Perlman. Helmut Nicolai began his career with the Berlin Philharmonic before moving to the Munich Philharmonic as principal violist. The Rosamunde Quartett gave their much acclaimed debut at the Berlin Festival Weeks in 1992. Their formative artistic influences included Sergiu Celibidache and Heinrich Schiff. Alongside the standard repertoire, the Rosamunde Quartett programme works by composers including Carl Goldmark, Emil Frantisek Burian, Hanns Jelinek, and Luigi Nono. The Rosamunde Quartett joined the roster of ECM New Series in 1996; their first three CDs for ECM - the first with quartets by Webern, Shostakovich and Burian, followed by a collaborative project with the Argentine composer and bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi (Kultrum), and, most recently, Haydn's Seven Last Words, which appeared in May 2001 - have gained widespread recognition in the international press and have also been awarded a number of prizes.
Silke Avenhaus studied with Bianca Bodalia and Klaus Schilde in Munich and Gyorgy Sebok at Indiana University in Bloomington. Sandor Vegh and Andras Schiff also numbered among her teachers. Avenhaus has played with a host of distinguished musicians, including Thomas Zehetmair, Isabelle Faust, Anja Lechner, Christoph Poppen and, as a member of the Munch Trio, with Xenia Jankovic and Arvid Engegard. Several composers, such as Jorg Widmann, Magnar Aam and Akikazu Nakamura, have written works for her. She has given concerts in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, and during the 2000/2001 season, performed in the European musical capitals of Vienna, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Athens and Cologne, and at New York's Carnegie Hall, all under the auspices of the Rising Star Series. Avenhaus is a frequent partner of the Rosamunde Quartett.
Maacha Deubner studied singing in Essen and Hamburg, where her last teacher was Judith Beckmann. The soprano also attended master classes with Ralph Gothoni, Dalton Baldwin and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Since then she has sung in Europe and North America and performed at numerous festivals, such as the Music Biennale in Berlin, the Haendel Festival in Gottingen, the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival and the Lucerne Festival. Deubner has worked with conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Michael Gielen and Valery Gergiev. Her repertoire includes operatic roles by Bach, Haendel, Haydn and Mozart; but she is also at home on the concert stage, in works by Brahms, Mahler and Schoenberg, and devotes considerable time to chamber music. She sang in Luigi Nono's Prometeo, with the Ensemble Modern, at the Wien Modern 2000 festival. Maacher Deubner has participated in a number of recordings of works by Giya Kancheli for ECM New Series, among them Exil, Caris Mere and Lament - Music of Mourning in Memory of Luigi Nono (with Gidon Kremer).
========= from the cover ==========
An Avantgarde Romantic
On the Music of Valentin Silvestrov
"What I deal with might be termed poetry in music."This declaration by the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (born in Kiev in 1937) is to be taken literally. Since the Seventies, he has devoted much of his work to vocal compositions, such as the Cantata on Poems by Tioutchev and Blok, for soprano and chamber orchestra (1973), and the song cycles Quiet Songs (1974 -1977), Simple Songs (1974-1981) and Steps (1980-1982). But the composer's statement does not refer to vocal music alone.
"In the beginning was the Word" applies equally to Silvestrov's instrumental works, even if the search for an explicit programme will surely be futile. An intensely poetic concern governs not only the composer's oeuvre, but the whole of his musical thinking, for which, post factum, he has found a fitting term: "metaphorical style" or "me-ta-music". Hardly does a musical element-sound, motif or melodic line - appear than it is enfolded in a shimmering aura and equipped with unexpected caesuras, hiatuses and accents drawn from an infinite scale of "dynamic intervals", as Silvestrov calls dynamic nuances. The music moves cautiously, almost groping its way forward: as if the composition were coming into existence before the listener's very ears.
And yet the music also evokes memories. But, as gradually becomes clear, there is no quotation or mere stylisation involved. Silvestrov's music creates a musical reality with characteristic traits and laws of its own. The focus is not on the musical text alone - which may appear simple or, as Silvestrov puts it,"weak"- but on the performative aspect, the actual "utterance". That is how the suggestion of a "semantic overtone" can be injected into the music. Everything that would ordinarily be considered incidental - agogics, dynamics, tempo - seems to have shifted into the foreground. And yet everything we hear, down to the tiniest details and expression marks, has been fastidiously notated. This precision and meticulousness undoubtedly reflect the previous compositional experience of a major representative of the so-called "Soviet avant-garde".
At this point, it is worth remembering that, in the Sixties, Silvestrov - like his colleagues Arvo Part, Alfred Schnittke and Sofia Gubaidulina - had already gained considerable recognition for an earlier style of composing. Silvestrov was awarded the Koussevitsky Prize in 1967 and the composition prize of the international Gaudea-mus competition in Amsterdam in 1970. His works (including Five Pieces for piano, 1961; Quartetto piccolo, 1961; the Trio for flute, trumpet and celesta, 1962; Myster-ium for alto flute and percussion, 1964; Monodia for piano and orchestra, 1965; the Third Symphony, 1968; and Hymn for six orchestral groups, 1970), which were performed primarily in the West (in countries like Germany, Holland, Italy and the USA), struck a chord with audiences and critics alike.
In these "acts of direct expression", these "spontaneous, mystery play-like compositions "or" audible landscapes" (Rilke), as he describes his earlier works, Silvestrov takes up some of the avant-garde impulses of the time, using dodecaphonic, pointillistic, aleatoric and sonoristic techniques. It was a path that promised to open up broad, new vistas. But by 1969 the composer had abandoned this terrain again. For, as Silvestrov himself saw it,"the most important lesson of the avant-garde was: to be free of all preconceived ideas, particularly those of the avant-garde ..."In his quest for new ways of thinking, he produced two works that achieved an "identity of styles": Drama for violin, cello and piano (1970/71, a sort of "super-cycle" in three "acts", consisting of a sonata for violin and piano, a sonata for cello and piano, and a piano trio) and Meditation for cello and chamber orchestra (1972). The next step - toward the "metaphorical style" Silvestrov continues to cultivate - took place in the mid-Seventies.
The present CD features works of different periods and genres, and for different forces. But there is a link between them. The composer attaches significance to each compositional technique and each movement: as a symbol and as a basis for an unmistakable lyrical (or poetic) collision.
Not many musicians are ready to perform the Sonata for cello and piano (1983): with neither sweeping dramaturgy nor colourful contrasts, it offers little scope for virtuosity. What emerges instead is, to quote Virko Baley, a "new, imaginary kind of instrument, a 'cello-piano', which is, in some mysterious way, played by one and the same musician". This concept gives rise to a metaphorical composition - an instrumental "monodrama for three people", as Silvestrov puts it. The "third person" is embodied by the pedal, which not only adds colour but is understood as an independent voice expected to maintain "attentive contact" with the other instrumental lines. Everything about this "drama" is unusual: for instance, the role of the soloists, who mirror one another. This reflects one of Sil-vestrov's favourite constructive principles, replacing polyphony by "sonoristic monody" (Svetlana Savenko) with fluctuating transitions and layerings, which allows "reality" constantly to change places with its "shadow". For example, in the triplet patterns that dominate the whole composition, dissolving into gentle ripples or then solidifying into hard ostinato figures. But the ostinato is less a rhythmic attack, in the manner of the. twentieth-century classics (such as Ravel, Bartok or Stravinsky), than a "vibrating din".
But what is entirely unique is the form of the sonata, which stands aloof from the typical structure of the sonata form. This one-movement work follows a different logic; it is informed by a different, hidden meaning. An impetuous, creative gesture opens up a sonic space: a gentle melody on the cello, solicitously underlaid by the "palms of the piano's hands" (Silvestrov), a muffled murmuring of both instruments -this episode involuntarily calls to mind lines by Pushkin which Silvestrov set in his Quiet Songs.
Парки бабье лепетанье, / Спящей ночи трепетанье, / Жизни мыши беготня… / Что тревожишь ты меня ? (A. Пушкин, 1830)
Only the old wives' chatter of Fate / The trembling of the sleeping night / The mouse-like scurrying of life... / Why do you disturb me? (A. Pushkin, 1830)
Everything is pervaded by the effort of commencing, by expectations that it will take the golden section of the work to fulfil. Melody "as consolation, dedication, catharsis. This is what the whole form is straining toward. A melody that passes into the music like a gift." Silvestrov's work abounds with such events: they grow from inside, from quiet listening.
Nowhere in the sonata is this melody given full voice. There is no departure from the realm of soft sounds. Enveloped in the echoing triplets, it is interrupted by the reawakening of ominous "distant trembling", only to dissolve again in the flickering harmonics of the cello. A trace in the silence "beyond music".
String Quartet No. 1 (1974) develops out of the chorale-like mood of pure major triads. Already the opening theme is treated metaphorically, like "a poem about the fate of music in the last two hundred years". Hardly has it sounded than the romantic idiom is engulfed in atonal sequences, only to fade away in aleatoric gestures: "Raise the finger slightly, so as to produce an indeterminate sound like a breath of wind", as it says in the score.
The extended first section (Andante) is a sort of dialogic cycle of three variations of the theme, each in a different style. In the first variation, the chorale counterpoints with an extended twelve-tone melody in the second violin; in the second and shortest variation, the first violin takes over the solo, to the accompaniment of intermittent phrases; in the third, quasi aleatoric, variation, the voices radically pull away from one another: the parallel movement of the low strings (in the manner of a medieval organum) forms a strangely melancholic backdrop for the seemingly random interjections of the violins. The recurrence of the theme concludes the first part of the "dialogue", while simultaneously setting off further developments. From here on, we find ourselves in the midst of a veritable, if understated, "dispute", incorporating both the theme and the "arguments" that have just been stated. Allusion to the lyrical twelve-tone melody is made in the furious fugato of the "first subject", while echoes of the "organum" can be heard in the stormy passages of the "second subject". Within the overall quartet structure, this sequence gives rise to a sort of sonata form, or, more precisely, an exposition, which gets no further than the threshold to a development before losing its way in the whimsical flourishes of a "Scherzo".
The symbolic metamorphosis demonstrated by the theme is, in principle, open-ended and could have evolved "differently". There is, and can be, no finale in the emphatic sense. An end could only be a new beginning. The coda that rounds off the form repeats the theme in its entirety, but with a few subtle changes. Underlaid by a gentle echo, the chorale culminates, for the first time, in a final chord. But instead of being in the original key of G-major, it is a semi-tone higher, in A-flat major. This turns what would ordinarily have been a full stop into a dash. Once again the last notes fade into whispers. But now even softer than before and with tiny variations: out of the shadowy murmur emerges the melodic silhouette of the theme. The music does not vanish, it "continues to sound in invisible, inaudible space".
Мой дар убог и голос мой не громок, / Но я живу, и на земле мое / Кому нибудь любезно бытие: / Его найдет далекий мой потомок / В моих стихах; Kак знать? душа моя, / Окажется с душей его в сношеньи, / И как нашел я друга в поколеньи, / Читателя найду в потомстве я. (Евгений Баратынский, 1828)
My pound is meagre and my voice soft,/ Yet I am, and on earth there is / Someone who loves this, my existence: / Perhaps in my verse / Someone as yet unborn will discover me, who knows? my soul / will then prove kindred to his soul, / And as I found a friend in life, / So will I find a reader in posterity. (Yevgeny Baratinsky, 1828)
The first quartet embodies a new poetic idea and a compositional form particularly congenial to Silvestrov: the postlude. Not an outgrowth of the instrumental works alone, it is, in fact, found above all in the vocal works of the period. Slow, seemingly endless coda variations, recalling melodies that had been heard earlier, could expand beyond the proportions of the song setting itself, until the postlude finally emerged as an independent form."The postlude can be compared to a collection of resonances. A form in which one suspects the existence of a certain imaginary text connected with the real, given text. This makes it an open form: not only at the end, but equally so at the beginning / 'Silvestrov took up the idea in symphonic works as well: in Postludium for piano and orchestra (1984); the Fifth Symphony (1980-82 ), which the composer called a "post-symphony"; Exegi monumentum for solo voice and orchestra (1985-87); Dedication for violin and orchestra (1990/91); and Metamusic for piano and orchestra (1992).
But it was in chamber music that the first step was taken, above all in the Three Postludes (1981/82) for various forces: I. "DSCH"for piano trio and solo voice, II. for violin solo, III. for cello and piano. Written for separate occasions, the works were later brought together in a cycle and linked by means of "instrumental staging". On the first page of the score, for example, the composer supplies the following directions: "The Postludes can be performed either individually or as a cycle: after Postlude I, the singer leaves the stage; then Postlude II is played ('cello' and 'piano' remain on the stage). After the 'violin' has completed its Postlude, it also leaves and Postlude III is played. The Postludes should be performed without a break (the performers leave the stage during the resonant cae-suras)."These three staged sequences might be compared to individual "moments lyri-ques" linked by the "resonant caesuras".
The title of Postlude I is taken from the famous musical monogram of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). This signature tune, which Shostakovich himself used a number of times (in the Tenth Symphony and the Eighth String Quartet, among other places), has become a symbol: not only of his music but of the tragic fate of the "captive genius", as Alexander Solzhenitsyn saw Shostakovich. And in Silvestrov's Postlude, the monogram surely functions as a symbol. However, the composer has found his own lyrical key for decoding it, or, paradoxically: for reformulating the musical code. As handled by Silvestrov, it is not the "immutable emblem" of Shostakovich's own expressively unambiguous message. At which point the monogram at the heart of Silvestrov's piece becomes more of a cryptogram, an exclamatory motif that, pulled apart into the high and low registers, is not even immediately recognisable. The motivic development is equally latent. The well-known cruciform chromatic structure (two semi-tones bounded by a diminished fourth) evolves into a melodic line that ultimately transforms into a limpid, rising whole-tone sequence: b-flat-c-d-e. This "liberating" approach is crucial in shaping the overall form: from the expressive vocalise to the hushed aria ("cantare, sotto voce,a bocca chiusa,quasi lontano")-and on to the prayer, which passes from the voice to the solo violin. For a brief moment at the end of the Postlude, the voice, which fell silent in the second stanza, is raised once more. Embedded in the piano's bright, bell-light figures, it utters only a single word: "Amen."The work thus becomes a requiem for the great master.
Out of the silence grow the first, muted sounds of Postlude II for violin. It is a contemplative song with moments of silence, the characteristic parallelism and "Gothic" cadences recalling a canzona da sonar. The melody is enlaced with mysterious, exotic sounds, then suddenly breaks off.
Warum bist du so kurz? Liebst du, wie vor-mals, denn / Nun nicht mehr den Gesang? fandst du,als Jungling,doch,/ln denTagen der Hoffnung, / Wenn du sangest, das Ende niel' Wie mein Gluck, ist mein Lied, willst du im Abendrot /Froh dich baden? hinweg ists! und die Erd ist kalt, / Und der Vogel der Nacht schwirrt / Unbequem vor das Auge dir. (Friedrich Holderlin, 1798)
Why are you so brief? Do you no longer, as you once did,/ Love song? As a youth / In the days of hope, / Your singing found no end!" / My song is like my fate - would you bask / Happily in the glow of dusk? it has departed! and the earth is cold, / And the bird of night whirs / Uncomfortably before your eyes.
After a further caesura we hear a totally different"song",or, more properly,the coda of a song. An echo in the most literal sense of the word, it contains typical departure motifs, repeated false cadences and slowing tempi. This is Postlude III, for cello and piano. A bright, simple tune devoid of ornamentation, it might almost be "borrowed" from Silvestrov's song cycles. We encounter the same elegiac tone and -probably not by chance - similar directions for the performers: "The singing should not disengage from the piano but come, so to speak, from the depths of the piano sound - now soaring from it, now descending into it" (Quiet Songs)."... the cello tone should (...during the diminuendo) merge into its doubling on the piano, so to speak modulating the piano sound" (Postlude). But those who listen to the present CD without knowing Silvestrov's vocal works will have an altogether different association,for this is, in fact, the melody from the Sonata for cello and piano. However, unaccompanied by the unsettling reverberating triplets, its effect here is more balanced and tranquil. A historian is needed to restore the proper sequence of events: it is a matter, not of "no longer", but of "still"! For the Sonata was not written until one yearafter the Postlude.The listener is therefore invited to listen to both works again, in order to establish the connection between "beginning" and "end".
But first, let us allow the final caesura to "resonate". It is followed by Hymn 2001. Here the composer himself plays: "from afar, listening raptly". As if in unison with the beloved poet:
Быть может, прежде губ уже родился шопот, / И в бездревствествености кружилися листы, / И те, кому мы посвящаем опыт, / До опыта приобрели черты. (Осип Мандельштам, 1934)
As the whisper perhaps evolved before lips, / And leaves spun and circled long
before there were trees,/ So those, it may be, whom our experience endows,/Before such experience have acquired their traits. (Osip Mandelstam,1934)
- Tatjana Frumkis