ALBUM TITLE: Langer , Mozetich , Schnittke
WORKS: Platch; Affairs of the Heart; Concerto for Three
PERFORMER: Roman Mints (violin), Maxim Rysanov (viola), Kristine Blaumane (cello); New Prague Sinfonia, West Kazakhstan PO/Mikel Toms
CATALOGUE NO: QTZ 2052
The Russian violinist Roman Mints demonstrates a huge talent in this stimulating disc of contemporary works. The youngest composer represented here is Elena Langer, born in Moscow in 1974. Her twomovement Platch is an essay in invented folklore: deriving from the ritual of mourning at a traditional Russian wedding by professional mourners (to symbolise the death of one condition and the birth of a new), it has the solo violin swooning and keening and ululating in theatrically imagined grief, with the orchestra as mourners and responsories. The emotive demands of the solo part require Mints’s technique to scale vertiginous heights: as a showpiece of hysterical lament – issuing at last in an old Yiddish lullaby – the piece succeeds admirably.
I was less taken with Marjan Mozetich’s Affairs of the Heart, though this single-movement concerto apparently made a deep impression on listeners when premiered on CBC Radio. Mozetich’s marriage of Nymanesque chuggery with sometimes glutinously romantic melodic lines feels as if he may be trying too hard to create a modern music more aimed at mass appeal than expressive truth. The contrast could hardly be starker with Schnittke’s Concerto for Three, in which Mints is joined by the violist Maxim Rysanov and the cellist Kristine Blaumane. Some of Schnittke’s last works seem to reduce the music to pathetic messages scratched on a prison wall, but not this austerely focused and essentialised piece, with its melancholically companionable concluding minuet. With the version by its dedicatees Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and Rostropovich currently unavailable this is a highly competitive account. Calum MacDonald