Recordings from the composer's archive
Self-made covers + composer's cover
Valentin Silvestrov is a famous composer and his discography is rather large thanks to Megadisc Classics and ECM Records. But his works of the 60s and early 70s are barely known, only a pair of them are recorded on CDs, whereas they are not less interesting than the later ones (I guess that for someone they can be even more interesting). Silvestrov was a very important and probably the most radical figure of so-called "soviet avant-garde" during the 60s. He has won the 1970 Gaudeamus Composers' Competition with his Third Symphony "Eschatophony". This composition was created in 1968 in Darmstadt (where it was well received by Adorno) under the direction of Bruno Maderna and you can listen to this world premiere on this CD. As well as you can listen to the creation of Silvestrov's chamber symphony "Spectra" in 1965 in Leningrad. It's absolutely amazing that such kind of music as "Spectra" or Denisov's "The Sun of Incas" could be performed in USSR in the 60th. It became possible thanks to such brave and enthusiastic musicians as, for example, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (in the case of Denisov, Schnittke, Gubaidulina) or Igor Blazhkov who conducts "Spectra" and "Meditation" on this CD.
As for "Meditation" it's a kind of passage from Silvestrov's avant-garde period to his later
## 1-3 - Spectra, Symphony For Chember Orchestra (1965)
Igor Blazhkov, conductor. Recorded live in the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic, 1965 (world premiere)
## 4-6 - Symphony No. 3 'Eschatophony' For Large Symphony Orchestra (1966)
Bruno Maderna, conductor. Recorded live at the Darmstadt international Summer Courses for New Music, 1968 (world premiere)
## 7 - Meditation, symphony for cello & chamber orchestra (1972)
Valentin Potapov, cello. Igor Blazhkov, conductor. Recorded live at the Kiev Philharmonic, 1976
Meditation, symphony for cello & chamber orchestra
2a: Something not understood or beyond understanding (from musts, an initiate, from mein, to close the eyes, initiate)
It is not really known what "modernism" is and it is definitely not known what "postmodernism" is; but trajectories, inspired directions, and strained-for utopias are detected and they strain in opposing directions, veering against and away from each other. Ironically enough, the tension between these two chimeric historical concepts might best be seen in a single knot of experience: The ideal light shed on each is by the other. In terms of knots, Silvestrov's music is an ideal refuge of tensions. Especially in a transitional work like his Meditation from 1972, one almost hears like a tone the rift between the modern and the postmodern. Granted the stereotypical qualities are all there: The score is a poster battle between the arch-modernist notion of abstraction and purity of styles and the subsequent fascination on the part of many post-1945 artists with combining styles and explicit historical allusion. And in this sense, what one critic said of Silvestrov's earlier Drama - that it was a record of stylistic crisis itself - can be applied to this work as well. But Silvestrov's score also delves into more subtle territory. It's subtitled "symphony for cello and orchestra" and transmits the word "symphony" back to etymological roots: it is a "sounding-with," the actual metaphor-matter that threads and binds two distinct states of being. In general, however, the oppositions remain mutually tethered into a single complex process; abstract sounds burst into the audible file, free and delivered of semantic overtones; soon, however, they seem to expend their natural energy and as they gradually fade, their resonance becomes harmonized into an "old" sound, strongly evocative of the nineteenth century sound-world of Schumann, Brahms, and Mahler. This elusive, allusive turn in the music works like a flame, igniting and extinguishing in gradual decay, a decay that reveals in its cyclic oblivion a glorious complexity. The climax is a kind of anarchic explosion of free playing, utilizing then relatively new aleatoric (chance) techniques; the courage it must have taken Silvestrov to write such music in the Soviet Union of 1972 is tremendous. After this wild fulmination, the entire score begins to cool into a vast coda, perhaps the first flowering of a music that would expand into an entire aesthetic in the coming years: Its freezing is also a great expansion. It shocks to think that this music was completed just months after Shostakovich's Fifteenth and last symphony, with its unforgettable rigor mortis of humanity into puppetry; here Silvestrov offers a powerful misreading, sympathetic yet original. The question of course remains: What judgment here took place? What historical rite or artistic truth was stamped out? In actuality, the strength of Silvestrov's score has less to do with revelation than secrecy; in this sense, its illumination is a paradoxical one, brought about by a mystery, a "closing of the eyes" that betrays more about historical rifts than any analytical flashlight.
- Seth Brodsky (www.allmusic.com)