Ustvolskaya, Gubaidulina, G—recki, PelŽcis

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Gorecki,Gubaidulina,Pelécis,Ustvolskaya
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Mosaic
WORKS: Piano Concerto; Introïtus; Piano Concerto; Concertino bianco
PERFORMER: Alexei Lubimov (piano)Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie/ Heinrich Schiff
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-12709-2
Alexei Lubimov’s personal survey of Eastern European new music, Soviet and post-perestroika, turns out to be a disappointing mixed bag. Even the inclusion of two premiere recordings doesn’t deliver the expected novelties, though Lubimov is a committed advocate for all four works. Pelécis’s Concertino bianco is an anodyne piece of post-modern doodling, while Galina Ustvolskaya’s Concerto is an early work from 1946, composed while she was deeply in thrall to Shostakovich. In many ways it’s a carbon copy of his piano concertos, though with hindsight it’s possible to detect in the vehemence with which the themes are projected something of the terse emotional power of her later pieces.

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Górecki’s typically trivial Concerto for Piano and Strings, incessantly motoric, has been recorded before, and so too has the work by Sofia Gubaidulina, but that is by a long way the most substantial and worthwhile piece on the disc. The 1990 Introïtus is part of a triptych which also includes the remarkable violin concerto Offertorium, which Gubaidulina composed for Gidon Kremer and which, like that piece, relates to the Ordinary of the Mass. If it’s less striking than the violin piece, there is still a wonderful sense of Gubaidulina’s individual approach in its alternating sequence of piano solos and orchestral tuttis, with their brooding incantatory repetitions. Andrew Clements