Concertos for Orchestra 1-3: Karabits • Silvestrov
There are obvious questions to be asked right at the start here. Is this a gesture of loving kindness to Ukrainian composer Ivan Karabits from his conductor son Kirill? Or is the music really good? I’m afraid the answer in the second instance has to be a disappointed no, at least as far as these three featured Concertos for Orchestra are concerned. Karabits senior’s many full-orchestral thrashes are as turgid and over-scored as those in the more recent works of an admired colleague, Rodion Shchedrin. There are some nice touches in the demands on the players – they clap in the finale of the Second Concerto, and add lamenting voices at the end of the Third to the very atmospheric sounds of desolation with which the work began. But you have to be very careful with memorials to a nation’s suffering – even Shostakovich didn’t always get it right – and what happens in between the cries and whispers doesn’t rise to the occasion.
Jubilation comes in fits and spurts in the First Concerto’s ‘musical gift to Kiev’. The one work of superior imagination here belongs to Valentin Silvestrov and his Farewell Serenade, dedicated to Karabits’s memory and drawing a very beautiful Berceuse out of the shadows. No reservations at all, though, about the playing of the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The sound, engineered by Mike Clements, is first rate.