LABELS: Grand Piano
ALBUM TITLE: Kancheli, Silvestrov, Ustvolskaya
WORKS: Sio; Four Postludes; Hymn 2001; Piano Concerto
PERFORMER: Elisaveta Blumina (piano), Jürgen Spitschka (timpani, percussion); Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra/Thomas Sanderling
CATALOGUE NO: GP 678
Elisaveta Blumina’s selection of works for piano and orchestra by the Russian Galina Ustvolskaya, the Ukrainian Valentin Silvestrov and the Georgian Giya Kancheli offers the maximum contrast in expression and emotion. By far the earliest work is Ustvolskaya’s 1946 Concerto for piano, strings and timpani. As with much of her later more atonal music, it offers the listener a roller-coaster ride of extremes, juxtaposing passages of brittle aggression with calmer more reflective moments, all welded together by the sheer dynamic forcefulness of Ustovolskaya’s musical personality. The work has already been powerfully championed by Alexei Lubimov on an excellent Warner Apex release, but this warmly recorded version is no less convincing even if at times the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra’s violins sound a little bit thinner in the upper register than their counterparts on the Warner disc.
In sharp contrast to the hard-hitting Ustvolskaya, Silvestrov’s Four Postludes presents contemplative post-Mahlerian nostalgia. The composer’s distinctive combination of soulful string melodies, romantic harmonies and gently undulating piano arpeggios comes dangerously close to sounding like something from a smoochy Richard Clayderman CD. There’s no doubting, though, the music’s hypnotic impact, and this performance certainly projects a great deal of atmosphere.
Many passages in Kancheli’s Sio for piano, strings and percussion also sound unashamedly romantic, but the added allusion to Georgian folk music brings extra colouring, brilliance and variety. Blumina and conductor Thomas Sanderling deliver a convincing account of a somewhat loosely structured work.