Valentin Silvestrov: Moments of Memory II

review silvestrov x1cong

This rather lovely, if somewhat melancholic, programme of music combines a traditional sound with the more modern.

Ukrainian composer Silvestrov says he does not write new music, instead describing his work as “a response to, and an echo of, what already exists”.

This is particularly true with the gentle and atmospheric opening piece, Two Dialogues with Postscript, which is evocative of romantic composers such as Schubert; the work is based on pieces from Schubert and Wagner, according to the sleeve notes.

The album closes with Moments of Memory II, which references Chopin and Mozart, and is based on the works of a Russian philosopher featuring a fictional character who links this world to the one beyond. It’s rather beautiful, somewhere between early church music and the closing credits music for a sad film.

Serenade for String Orchestra is harsher and more modern, written for 19 string instruments. It’s a little stark, the music you’d get on a science fiction movie as a character endures a series of unfortunate events while on a spacewalk, the vastness of space behind him (or her).

Farewell Serenade is more serene, the first half is a little more baleful than the second.

Silent Music is clearly not silent; Silvestrov says it represents a metaphor for silence; it’s got more of a traditional romantic feel to it, while The Messenger is a melancholy tribute to his wife in romantic/classical style. It features a synth, providing the sound of a stiff breeze. It’s the most appealing track at first listen, combining sadness at her loss with the happiness of earlier times. Overall, pleasant, meditative music.

Out on Naxos, 8.573598.

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