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Valentin Silvestrov: The Messenger; Post Scriptum etc

Daniel Rowland (violin), Maja Bogdanović (cello), Borys Fedorov (piano) (Challenge Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Valentin Silvestrov
The Messenger; Post Scriptum; Three Pieces; Piano Sonata No. 2; Hommage à J.S.B.; Epitaphium*; Five Pieces
Daniel Rowland (violin), *Maja Bogdanović (cello), Borys Fedorov (piano)
Challenge Classics CC 72939   82:09 mins


Born in Kyiv, 1937, Valentin Silvestrov is currently – like Russian-Ukrainian pianist Borys Fedorov in Holland – a refugee, now based in Berlin. The solos and duos on this radiant release from Fedorov, Daniel Rowland (violin) and Maja Bogdanović (cello) are in themselves powerfully intimate, and are imbued with still greater intensity in light of the present suffering of his people.

Composed between 1975 and 2009, the works stem from Silvestrov’s first repudiation of his early avant-gardism for a quietly searing, self-described ‘metaphorical’ combination of melody and transparent textures, punctuated by striking shifts in harmony and contrasting material. ‘I do not write new music,’ he has said, ‘My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists.’ It’s a world at once familiar and strange. Mozart haunts The Messenger (1996), exquisitely written for piano following the death of Silvestrov’s wife – with further, more darkly tender remembrance in the 1999 cello-piano Epitaphium (L.B.).

Yet none of these pieces are emotional outpourings, but offer transcendent distillations of thoughts, feelings and memory. Most angular is Piano Sonata No. 2 (1975), its deep resonances and bright splashes of notes poised between multiple worlds. The violin-piano duos which comprise most of the album include the wonderfully ambiguous Post Scriptum (1990); the beautiful Five Pieces (2004) and Three Pieces (2005); and Hommage à J.S.B. (2009) which packs much Bach-permeated expression into three miniature movements.


Steph Power