Gubaidulina: In Tempus Praesens; Glorious Percussion

COMPOSERS: Gubaidulina
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Gubaidulina
WORKS: In Tempus Praesens; Glorious Percussion
PERFORMER: Vadim Gluzman (violin); Glorious Percussion; Lucerne SO/Jonathan Nott
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-SACD-1752

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Sofia Gubaidulina’s second violin concerto, In Tempus Praesens (2007), is one of her most eloquent utterances, pitting solo and orchestra against each other with tremendous expressive intensity. It has already been superbly recorded by the dedicatee, Anne-Sophie Mutter, on DG, but here Vadim Gluzman brings a raw power to the solo violin part, which is taxing yet seems to be born from the acoustic properties of the instrument. There are also moments when he seems to step further out of the limelight than Mutter, as if contemplating rather than charging-up the music. All in all a poetic reading, sufficiently different from Mutter to be worth acquiring.
The coupling, in any case, is the premiere recording of the percussion concerto Glorious Percussion, which gave its name to the Nordic percussion ensemble who feature here as soloists. Gubaidulina has written resourcefully for percussion throughout her career, and this is almost a showcase of her command of the medium. Intermittently mesmerising though less cogent than the violin concerto, with seven improvised sections for the ensemble that perhaps need a little pruning, this concerto is very much a work that takes its time in exploring a vast range of sonority, resonance and difference tones, to often ear-tickling effect.
Calum MacDonald