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Record Box

Raw and powerful

KEITH BRAMICH's first
impressions of the music
of Sofia Gubaidulina


EMI    5 57153 2

Sofia Gubaidulina: The Canticle of the Sun (p) 2001 EMI Classics

 

Sofia Gubaidulina, born 1931 in Chistopol, Russia to mixed Muslim and Slavic parents, is one of the compositional geniuses of our day, an alchemist who sculpts the raw and powerful forces of nature into a music at once stark, immediate, spiritual and dramatic in quality : 'Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora Luna e le Stelle ...' ('Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and the stars ...') [listen -- track 3, 1:21-2:11].

The Canticle of the Sun (1997) for cello, percussion and chamber choir, is a setting of Il cantico Frate Sole by St Francis of Assisi. A startling opening, tuning effects, extraordinary combinations of sounds, at least one climax of ravishing beauty [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:01] and an ending in which the soul appears to simply flutter away, have formed my first and memorable exposure to this composer's music.

Moving on to Music for Flute, Strings and Percussion (1994) is somehow leaving the sacred for the secular. We enter an exotic sound world, conjuring up for me something of the vegetation, creatures and danger of the jungle [listen -- track 12, 8:49-9:50] ... a world in which Emmanuel Pahud's gold and silver flutes and piccolo are quite capable of survival! A gentle, extended opening for solo flute leads to some powerful and unique writing juxtaposing two groups of strings tuned a quarter tone apart -- Gubaidulina refers to them as 'light' and 'shadow'. Her near obsession with producing strange and extended effects is never perceived as such -- these wonderful and imaginative sounds are integrated seemlessly into natural sounding music.

Well played and sung throughout, this EMI disc -- also a showcase for the varied skills of Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom The Canticle of the Sun is dedicated -- is highly recommended.

 

Copyright © 19 January 2002 Keith Bramich, London, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - EMI 5 57153 2

PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON

PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET

A SOFIA GUBAIDULINA BIOGRAPHY

 

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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews