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Alexei Lubimov|Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Song

Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Song

Alexei Lubimov, Alexei Martinov & Alexei Martinov

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Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (born 1937) has led an excruciatingly unfortunate professional life, but he has managed to persevere and remain productive. The Soviet establishment assailed his work as corrupted by Western formalism, and just as he was beginning to be acknowledged in the West as a courageous and forward-looking voice of the avant-garde, his work underwent a seismic shift toward simplicity, which alienated his Western defenders. His new aesthetic is most radically embodied in Silent Songs (1973-1977), a cycle of 24 songs for piano and lyric soprano or light baritone that lasts nearly two hours, and which the composer stipulates must be performed without a break, as a single extended song. To further distance himself from the likelihood of performance, much less critical or popular acceptance, all the songs are slow and very, very quiet. What's remarkable about this recording is that it's not the only one that this work has received, so the listener actually has a choice of performances. Alexei Martinov's natural-sounding, unforced baritone allows him to sing the music with the lightness the composer specifies, "to create the illusion of a very soft sigh." He has the control to keep the volume around the level of a whisper, and his pure, straight tone and folk-like ease are perfectly suited to the character of the songs. The only quibble with his performance is the tendency of his voice to occasionally drop out at the bottom of his range. Pianist Alexei Lubimov shows admirable restraint in sustaining the hushed atmosphere the songs require, and his attention to the composer's extensive use of rubato provides the rhythmic fluidity to keep the austerity of the piano part from sounding rote or mechanical. On ECM's 2004 release, baritone Sergey Yakovenko's voice is more operatic, and he uses considerably more vibrato than Martinov. While Yakovenko is more secure throughout his range, his performance sounds more expressive in the traditional anguished Slavic sense and more effortful. Silvestrov specified that "the performer should affect a subdued expression without psychology," and Martinov's simplicity is more faithful to the composer's intention, and ultimately more affecting. The songs themselves are astonishingly fresh and expressive, considering their very circumscribed dynamics, tempi, and harmonic language. Silvestrov demonstrates his mastery in the face of his self-imposed limitations in a variety of ways. His melodies are memorable and effortlessly lyrical. He avoids predictable periodicity in his text setting, which is always fluent and inevitable sounding. He uses mostly conventional triadic harmony, but his progressions are rarely conventional. The songs are, quite simply, beautiful. They call to mind lilies of the valley -- small, not showy, often nearly obscured by the shade, but for those who pay close attention, exquisitely and delicately formed, with a hauntingly sweet fragrance.
© TiVo

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Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Song

Alexei Lubimov

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1
Poetry heals the ailing spirit
00:03:17

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Evgeny Baratynsky, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

2
There were storms and bad weather
00:03:59

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Evgeny Baratynsky, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

3
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
00:07:10

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - John Keats, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

4
From" Autumn"
00:03:41

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

5
The Dream
00:05:23

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Taras Shevchenko, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

6
What is my name to you?
00:02:45

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

7
I will tell you with complete directness
00:03:17

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Osip Mandelstam, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

8
I drink to the health of Mary
00:04:33

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

9
Winter Journey
00:05:37

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

10
White gleams the lonely seal
00:04:39

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Mikhail Lermontov, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

11
I met you!
00:06:02

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Fyodor Tyutchev, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

12
The Isle
00:04:07

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Percy Bysshe Shelley, ScreenplayAuthor - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

DISC 2

1
Indescribable blue, tender!
00:06:03

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Sergei Jesenin, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

2
Autumn Song
00:05:04

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Sergei Jesenin, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

3
Swamps and marshes
00:05:07

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Sergei Jesenin, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

4
Winter evening
00:06:36

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

5
When the yellowing cornfield stirs
00:04:47

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Mikhail Lermontov, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

6
I go out alone on to the road
00:05:34

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Mikhail Lermontov, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

7
The Mountain summits
00:04:14

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Mikhail Lermontov, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

8
Verses composed at night, during insomnia
00:03:25

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

9
God has taken all away from me in punishment
00:02:21

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Fyodor Tyutchev, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

10
It is time, my friend
00:04:02

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexander Pushkin, ScreenplayAuthor - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

11
And Schubert on water
00:03:44

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Osip Mandelstam, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

12
Do not talk with sorrow about the dear companions
00:03:31

Alexei Lubimov, MainArtist - Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Alexei Martinov, MainArtist - Vasily Zhukovsky, ScreenplayAuthor

(C) 2001 Megadisc (P) 2001 Megadisc

Album Description

Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (born 1937) has led an excruciatingly unfortunate professional life, but he has managed to persevere and remain productive. The Soviet establishment assailed his work as corrupted by Western formalism, and just as he was beginning to be acknowledged in the West as a courageous and forward-looking voice of the avant-garde, his work underwent a seismic shift toward simplicity, which alienated his Western defenders. His new aesthetic is most radically embodied in Silent Songs (1973-1977), a cycle of 24 songs for piano and lyric soprano or light baritone that lasts nearly two hours, and which the composer stipulates must be performed without a break, as a single extended song. To further distance himself from the likelihood of performance, much less critical or popular acceptance, all the songs are slow and very, very quiet. What's remarkable about this recording is that it's not the only one that this work has received, so the listener actually has a choice of performances. Alexei Martinov's natural-sounding, unforced baritone allows him to sing the music with the lightness the composer specifies, "to create the illusion of a very soft sigh." He has the control to keep the volume around the level of a whisper, and his pure, straight tone and folk-like ease are perfectly suited to the character of the songs. The only quibble with his performance is the tendency of his voice to occasionally drop out at the bottom of his range. Pianist Alexei Lubimov shows admirable restraint in sustaining the hushed atmosphere the songs require, and his attention to the composer's extensive use of rubato provides the rhythmic fluidity to keep the austerity of the piano part from sounding rote or mechanical. On ECM's 2004 release, baritone Sergey Yakovenko's voice is more operatic, and he uses considerably more vibrato than Martinov. While Yakovenko is more secure throughout his range, his performance sounds more expressive in the traditional anguished Slavic sense and more effortful. Silvestrov specified that "the performer should affect a subdued expression without psychology," and Martinov's simplicity is more faithful to the composer's intention, and ultimately more affecting. The songs themselves are astonishingly fresh and expressive, considering their very circumscribed dynamics, tempi, and harmonic language. Silvestrov demonstrates his mastery in the face of his self-imposed limitations in a variety of ways. His melodies are memorable and effortlessly lyrical. He avoids predictable periodicity in his text setting, which is always fluent and inevitable sounding. He uses mostly conventional triadic harmony, but his progressions are rarely conventional. The songs are, quite simply, beautiful. They call to mind lilies of the valley -- small, not showy, often nearly obscured by the shade, but for those who pay close attention, exquisitely and delicately formed, with a hauntingly sweet fragrance.
© TiVo

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