Gubaidulina: Fachwerk; Silenzio

COMPOSERS: Gubaidulina
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Gubaidulina
WORKS: Fachwerk; Silenzio
PERFORMER: Geir Draugsvoll (bayan), Anders Loguin (percussion), Geir Inge Lotsberg (violin); Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Strings/Øyvind Gimse (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: Naxos 8.572772

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Throughout her career Sofia Gubaidulina has confided some of her profoundest musical thoughts to the bayan, the distinctively Russian form of the accordion – and so it is with the very recent Fachwerk for bayan, strings and percussion, receiving its world premiere recording here. Inspired by architectural styles of timber framing and the complex geometrical patterns that result from displaying rather than concealing the structural frameworks, this is a wise and magical work, Gubaidulina at her most shamanic. Her characteristically exploratory attitude to sound and texture here engenders a spellbindingly poetic fantasy. The bayan seems at one moment a seraphically disembodied church organ, at another a thinly keening rune-singer, at another a huffing, chuffing, growling predator sidling through the thickets of sound.
Like several other Gubaidulina scores, Fachwerk manifests a spiritual kinship with Sibelius, with the sense that it evokes a wild and desolate landscape. It also has some of the most traditional-sounding harmony I’ve heard in this composer’s recent works. Geir Draugsvoll is a mesmerising soloist, both here and in the slighter Silenzio, five miniatures with violin and cello that explore the border between sound and silence with intimate concentration. Øyvind Gimse, who directs the performance of Fachwerk, is the cellist here and, with violinist Geir Inge Lotsberg, a perfect and sensitive sonic foil to Draugsvoll’s bayan. A marvellous disc.
Calum MacDonald