Pliable's second law of music says you can measure the worth of a composition by the number of paths it opens. In which case Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds Passion and Ressurection is a pretty worthy piece. Yesterday it sent us to Castel del Monte in Italy for jazz/classical fusion. Today it sends us to a country that like Latvia was once under Soviet control, for a truly great and inexplicably neglected Requiem.
Valentin Silvestrov, whose Fifth Symphony has already featured here, was born in Kiev in Ukraine in 1937 and composed his Requiem for Larissa between 1997 and 1999 in memory of his wife the musicologist Larissa Bondarenko.
Writing of Ēriks Ešenvalds Passion and Ressurection I said:
It is familiar because it sounds so right. Music written from the heart as opposed to written to catch the prevailing wind of stylistic fashion will always sound right.Requiem for Larissa is another of those unfamiliar works that immediately sounds right. In a typically illuminating sleeve essay Paul Griffiths explains why this is:
Silvestov's creative destiny for many years has been the postlude: his works revive past music, especially Romantic symphonic music, in the very act of lamenting its disappearance.But again like Passion and Ressurection Silvestrov's Requiem for Larissa is not music of the past. This remarkable work, scored for mixed choir and orchestra including synthesizer and piano, is timeless. For me the Largo fourth movement, which develops the setting of verses by the Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko heard in the composer's Silent Songs (1974-77), is among the most moving music ever written, irrespective of period.
We are fortunate that Valentin Silvestrov's Requiem for Larissa is given the performance and recording* it deserves by the National Choir of Ukraine "Dumka" and National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine conducted by Volodymyr Sirenko on the ECM CD seen above**. Last year I pleaded "no more masterpieces please" to no avail as we now have "major masterpieces". However, I am not going to apply the m word to Requiem for Larissa. Instead I am going to apply two other words - buy it.
* Production is by Radio Ukraine team of Arkady Vichorev and Valery Stupnitsky, executive producer is, as ever, Manfred Eicher. Although Requiem for Larissa was released by ECM in 2004 it was recorded in 2001 in an unspecified venue in Kiev.
** The image on the ECM Requiem for Larissa CD cover is a still from "Histoire(s) du cinéma" by Jean-Luc Godard. The soundtrack, which has what must be the most eclectic composer credits ever, was released by ECM as a 5 CD set.
Now follow the Passion and Resurrection path to Rudolf Mauersberger's 1961 Dresden Requiem.
Requiem for Larissa was bought at retail price. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk