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COMPOSERS: Terterian
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4
PERFORMER: Armenian PO/Loris Tjeknavorian
Such manifestly eccentric music defies rational analysis. The Third Symphony opens with the sort of manic percussive assault you would expect from a teenager let loose on a drum kit for the first time. After an exhausting three minutes it subsides into several minutes of near-silence, finally broken by the strident nasal squawking of a battery of shawms and other Eastern double-reed instruments. Any hope that this might lead somewhere recognisably musical is shattered by the mayhem that ensues. The percussion re-enters, joined by whooping horns, braying trombones, and primordial squeaks from the woodwind. An almost completely static slow movement is followed by a finale whose fabulous barrage of sound teeters on the brink of total chaos. In the single-movement Fourth Symphony, ghostly musical fragments drift in and out of a mesmerising spectral backcloth that scarcely changes over the half-hour duration. You could reject such music out of hand, but in fact it is oddly compelling. Christopher Lambton