Desyatnikov’s Sketches to Sunset and Russian Seasons conducted by Philipp Chizhevsky

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COMPOSERS: Desyatnikov
LABELS: Quartz
ALBUM TITLE: Desyatnikov
WORKS: Sketches to Sunset; Russian Seasons
PERFORMER: Yana Ivanilova (soprano), Roman Mints (violin), Alexey Goribol (piano); Brno Philharmonic Orchestra; Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra/Philipp Chizhevsky
CATALOGUE NO: QTZ 2122

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Like Britten and Schnittke, Leonid Desyatnikov’s film scoring experience has honed his ability to write pithily effective and evocative music. And like many composers of the late Soviet period (such as Schnittke), his music is full of allusions and quotations; the suite Sketches to Sunset (based on music for the film Sunset) includes Mahler’s Adagietto re-presented as a circus-scored tango titled ‘Death in Venice’. Yet this follows the Pärt-like ‘Absalom’s Death’, poignantly beautiful and far from satirical in intent. Desyatnikov’s parodies have Stravinsky’s light touch, though with a more mordant edge in Russian Seasons.

Violinist Roman Mints has already championed Destyatnikov superbly in the studio, including an earlier recording of Sketches in a chamber-scored version (so describing this new recording, albeit the first of the full-orchestra version, as the ‘world premiere’ is rather misleading). The Brno Philharmonic, conducted by Philipp Chizhevsky, plays with tremendous zest and well captures the suite’s often disorientating mix of clowning and poetic reflection, finding a coherent personality in its eclecticism. Russian Seasons has previously been recorded by Gidon Kremer, but Mints with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, again conducted by Chizhevsky, not only match Kremer’s poetry and atmosphere but also show far greater wit, such as in the pay-off to the Reich-like ‘Stomping Song’ (Tolotnaya).

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Daniel Jaffé