Namin Centuria S-Quark Symphony
London Symphony Orchestra/Lee Reynolds
Navona Records NV6200 47:14 mins
In its ambition to reflect mankind on the brink of apocalypse, Stas Namin’s Centuria S-Quark Symphony appears to echo Mahler’s view that ‘the symphony must be like the world, it must embrace everything.’ Indeed, Namin himself seems to embody such a principle; a self-described cult figure in Russia, his activities span rock music frontman, composer, producer, photographer, artist – and highly successful cultural entrepreneur.
This is his first symphony, and follows an earlier classical piece: a symphonic suite, Autumn in St Petersburg. In one continuous movement, it’s a patchwork of dramatic themes and ideas in a post-Romantic idiom, inspired by conversations with astrophysicists and the question, ‘What dictates the rise and fall of civilisation?’ Hints of Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Glazunov and others peep through cinematic gestures, which range in mood from the rhetorically serious to the piquantly ironic via the grandiose and the surreal with prominent use of vibraslap. There are some ear-catching motifs – the opening string-wind thrust and riposte, for example. But, with actor-composer Aleksandr Slizunov credited for ‘arrangements’, it’s the orchestration that scores highest; lending colour – and vivacity, thanks to the ever-slick London Symphony Orchestra under conductor Lee Reynolds – to sometimes thin material.