Monday, 4 April 2011

Valentin Silvestrov: Bagatelles and Serenades

Listened twice over the weekend to Valentin Silvestrov's Bagatelles and Serenades and was further enchanted by the idiosyncratic compositional style of this Ukrainian composer. He's clearly fond of a particular kind of chord or interval, as every piece I've heard is distinctly Silvestov. I imagine musicologists could determine precisely what gives his music this particularly feel, it seems as though it's a unique pattern of notes, but what do I know.

I first heard his 'Elegie' and 'Der Bote' on Alexi Lubimov's excellent recital release Der Bote, sat beside similarly enigmatic work by Debussy, Glinka, CPE Bach and Cage. His symphonies get noisy and dissonant, but they too employ these same motifs. There's an aspect of the simplicity of Arvo Part, particularly in the Bagatelles, but combined with the suspended, anti-resolution of Satie, and a greater degree of melancholy than either. This is manifest as a kind of abstract nostalgia, a hauntological reaching back into classical piano music essences, the melodies of The Caretaker transcribed, slowed down, and saddened.

ECM release most of his music, and it seems tailor made for their aesthetic, without succumbing to the 'Nordic-wallpaper' blandness that taints some of their releases.

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