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A Russian flavour was immediately set with Prokofiev's Vision Fugitives -- impressionistic piano pieces in a most effective string orchestra version by Rudolf Barshai. A daring work to begin with, Alexander Walker soon elicited a cohesive ensemble to convey the widely varied moods of these epigrammatic miniatures: from the elusive poetic to the boisterous (Romeo and Juliet like waltzes), from piquant neo-classicism to virulently aggressive, the serene and visionary. In the final pieces luminous harmonies hovered, vibrato less, at the edge of silence. Prokofiev's genius for creating atmosphere through just a few strands of linear counterpoint, and ambiguous chromaticism, was clearly influential for the later generations of Soviet composers. Particularly so the Memoria for violin and chamber orchestra by Andrei Petrov, a searingly expressive concertante work in memory of the violinist Boris Gutnikov, which here received an expressive UK première by the young London based violinist Yuri Zhislin.

Andrei Petrov

Petrov is President of the St Petersburg Composers' Organisation and has an impressive oeuvre in many genres including symphonic works, ballets and an opera, but is especially known for his film scores. His Memoria for violin and chamber orchestra abounds in evocative gestures that celebrate the lyrical and dance like qualities of the violin. There is a strongly Russian accent to the pivotal semitone motif, in 'scotch-snap' rhythm, that the soloist introduces and which is taken up in dialogue with the horns and woodwind. Together with a contrasting rising arpeggio idea, these motifs are developed over slow, low sustained strings at the outset, dwelling on the acerbic interval of a ninth in a mood of reflective elegy. Underpinning the movement is a gradual arc of intensity, with a gradual build towards an exciting climax, at which the music springs vividly into dance-like exuberance, Yuri Zhislin's brightly projected double-stopped energy supported effervescently by the whole orchestra. Then, tension subsides with eerie swoops emanating from inner voices, fading into silence.

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Copyright © 23 December 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK





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