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Music by Elena Firsova in a perfect balance between soloist and ensemble

David N. Lewis from All Music Guide published a review for Jelena Firssowas CD:

The Mandelstam Cantatas. Studio for New Music; Ltg.: Igor Dronov; Sopran: Ekaterina Kichigina. MEGADISC MDC 7816.

She writes:

Contemporary Russian composer Elena Firsova considers her cycle of three solo cantatas as her most important body of work. A talented, imaginative and technically pioneering poet, is also regarded as a symbol of an entire generation of Russians eliminated by Stalin in the great purge of the 1930s, alleged as the worst mass liquidation of people in human history. Firsova expresses a preference for Mandelstams early period, and the first two cantatas, (Forest Walks Op. 36) (1987} and (Earthly Life, Op. 31) (1984) are taken from Mandelstam texts dating from 1908-1920. However, the third cycle (Before the Thunderstorm, Op. 70) is derived from Mandelstams late period, utilizing texts dating from 1930-1935.

In her student days at the Moscow Conservatory, Firsova studied with Philip Herschkowitz, one of only a handful of musicians to undertake a course of study in the twelve-tone system with Anton Webern and the editor of Alban Bergs final works. Firsova has retained the best lessons from this knowledge, and the cantatas essentially remain true to the style of Webern, but with an important difference. Rather than trying to cram the whole setting into a movement lasting only a minute or two, Firsova stretches out the music, allowing it to float, achieving satisfying and complete results lasting two to ten minutes per poem. Firsovas music is largely gentle, mysterious sounding in texture and calm in mood, seldom breaking into anything suggesting disturbance or conflict, except for when the text calls for it, such as in the passage The tense and hollow sound of fruit falling from a tree. The overall impression left is of intense sadness, in keeping with the tone of Mandelstams poetry. The soprano parts are fairly high lying, and are sung very well in Russian by Ekaterina Kichigina; English-language texts are included in the booklet. This is uncompromising, yet beautiful music. The Megadisc recording is stunning, and strikes a perfect balance between soloist and ensemble. Elena Firsovas work represents some of the most relevant and deeply felt contemporary music coming out of Europe."