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A Siberian composer of the past




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A composer born in Siberia might find a strong inclination towards Russian culture: in the case of Aaron Avshalomoff (1895-1964), feelings were powerfully motivated towards Chinese traditions, which led to his resolve to live in China for the purpose of both studying Chinese classical music and evolving a personal synthesis as a basis for his own music. Subsequent periods in America gave him little reward for his efforts towards recognition as a composer.

Aaron Avshalomoff Orchestral Works Volume 1. Copyright (c) 1999 HNH International Ltd.I am not a little surprised at Avshalomoff's dispiriting experience. His music is fluent and flows from a mind that is naturally creative. But weighing heavily is the pentatonic bias, especially in the Symphony [click for music], as the classical elements of this structure struggle in vain. Much to be preferred is the Flute Concerto, especially the final dance and its tuneful scampers. [Click for music.]

I feel - admittedly on limited experience - that a determination on the part of the composer to communicate his passion for Chinese traditional music led to a vain attempt to dress it in the multi-coloured array of a modern European orchestra, thereby depriving it the qualities that are endemic. To make matters worse, second-rate film scores of pre-war Hollywood were awash in Eastern promise and tainted the whole area. Avshalomoff was a good composer getting too close to the fire.

This CD appears to be the first of a series. Maybe some other treasures are yet to be revealed.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October 6th 1999 


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