Gubaidulina: Chaconne; Sonata; Musical Toys; Introitus: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Gubaidulina
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Chaconne; Sonata; Musical Toys; Introitus: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
PERFORMER: Andreas Haefliger (piano)NDR PO Hannover/Bernhard Klee
CATALOGUE NO: SK 53960 DDD
Unsurprisingly, none of the solo piano pieces on this disc, all dating from the Sixties, is representative of Sofia Gubaidulina at her most impressive; the rather boxy recording doesn’t help. The Chaconne (1962) is an unsettling amalgam of Bach and Shostakovich, Schoenberg and Rachmaninov; the 14 little Musical Toys (1969), written for the composer’s daughter, are evocative but inevitably somewhat inconsequential. Only the 21-minute, three-movement Sonata – written in 1965, the same year as her official ‘Op. 1’ – moulds her myriad influences into a piece of some substance and mature purpose.

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Introitus (1978), however, takes us into another world. From the haunting pitch-bending of flute and bassoon at the opening to the piano’s mesmerising trill at its close, this 23-minute piece is the work of a composer with something urgent to communicate. This is not a piano concerto in any conventional sense. Woodwind trio and solo strings bear the main ‘orchestral’ burden; the piano is largely used to intone melodies that lie at the work’s heart: ‘psalmodising in the deepest bass’, as Dorothea Redepenning’s booklet note puts it. This is a music of meditation, more varied, emotionally as well as rhythmically and texturally, and more dissonant than that of Pärt or Górecki. But it’s equally compelling. Keith Potter