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With the Viola Towards the Dead

- Works of Gubaidulina and Kancheli

In the current issue of the specialist periodical Fono Forum (7/02), Marcus Stbler discusses the new recording of the Viola Concerto by Sofia Gubaidulina and the work "Styx" by Giya Kancheli which has been issued by DG/Universal under the ordering number CD 471 494. The CD received the highest rating from Fono Forum. Stbler writes the following in his article "With the Viola Towards the Dead":

"Both composers belong to a generation of Soviet Russian composers whose early artistic development had to take place in the restrictive climate of state-decreed "socialist realism." And both have found a very independent, subjectively emotional musical language whose explicitly religious will to expression has not infrequently aroused the mistrust of the West European avant-garde's rigorous guardians of custom. It is therefore appropriate and fitting to unite two works of Sofia Gubaidulina and Giya Kancheli on one CD - especially since their creations have been inspired by the instrumental abilities of the same dedicatee, Yuri Bashmet.

"The Russian violist animates the broadly stretched melodic lines in Kancheli's 1999 composition with his expressive tone, rich in nuances. In its title, the work realises in an associative, imagist manner the river Styx: the river separating the world of the living from that of the dead. Here it becomes a meditatively musical stream out of which unison orchestral outbreaks burst forth off and on, as well as ghostly dance gestures and folkloristic interspersions. In the Viola Concerto of Sofia Gubaidulina, a work just three years older than "Styx," the movement only gradually and hesitantly gets under way in connection with a solo introduction; the music then either sticks with an aleatoric solo passage or comes to a standstill through bizarre inserts of wind instruments.

"Bashmet's captivating playing and Valery Gergiev's explosive temperament have enabled this production to become a reference recording of two central works of the late twentieth century."