Valentin Silvestrov :
Bagatellen und Serenaden
The other half of this CD is comprised of works for chamber orchestra, two of which – ‘Der Bote' (1996) and ‘Zwei Dialog emit Nachwort’ (2001-02) feature the wonderful playing of Alexei Lubimov, long a fine, sensitive interpreter of Silvestrov’s keyboard compositions. The orchestra is the Münchener Kammerorchester, under the able direction of Christoph Poppen. These are pieces of aching beauty – but one shouldn’t take that to indicate that they are ‘fluff’ by any means. Silvestrov’s works are always of strong substance and intellectual depth – every note does its part to complete the effect of the whole, and nothing is left to chance or done without consideration.
Several of Silvestrov’s works for piano reference composers he admires through titles and / or dedications – ‘Two pieces’ (2003) has a movement entitled ‘Chopin moments’; ‘Three waltzes’ are titled ‘Schoenberg’, ‘Webern’ and ‘Berg’, respectively. ‘Two dialogues with an epilogue’ (2001-02), goes even further, quoting, tellingly, the ‘Kupelwieser waltz’ by Franz Schubert – a piece which, according to the notes, was only played by Schubert and never written down by the composer. Not until 1943 was the piece, which had been passed down from ‘ear to hand’ through the years, written down by descendants of Richard Strauss. Silvestrov believes very strongly in this sort of ‘oral tradition’ playing an important part in composed music – just as many of his own melodies and ideas are carried in his mind for years before being printed.
These two discs present some of the most important and moving work by a artist whom Arvo Pärt has called ‘one of the greatest composers of our time’ – no small bit of praise. I can heartily recommend any the ECM releases that showcase his work – and especially Bagatellen und Serenaden. As an introduction to an important composer, it’s a great place to start exploring.