DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Silvestrov Ought To Be In Every Concert Season

By Norman Lebrecht on September 11, 2020

Valentin Silvestrov

Valentin Silvestrov: Ode to a Nightingale / Symphony No. 7 / Piano Concertino (Naxos)

★★★★☆

🎧  Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon

I often wonder when listening to Silvestrov’s music why he is not one of the most performed living composers. His music is at once mentally challenging and aurally agreeable, beautifully constructed and unexpectedly affecting. He ought to be in every concert season.

Born in Kiev in 1937 and a major catalyst in the 1960s Moscow avant-garde, Silvestrov was named ‘one of the greatest composers of our time’ by such distinguished colleagues as Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt. Yet as far as Western conductors are concerned he might as well be a Mongolian herdsman for all the attention they pay to his output. He’s 83 and still writing. Listen up now.

The record premiere of his 7th symphony, conducted in Lithuania by Christopher Lynton-Gee, is augmented by three little-known works, each of gripping fascination. A 19-minute Russian-language setting of John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale sounds almost familiar, a recognition that dawns when you realise that the musical language, while original, occupies a landscape precisely midway between Leos Janacek and Alban Berg. I loved it on first hearing and have listened again and again.

A 2014 cantata takes us into pastoral writing of a romantic hue, but post-modern in its detachment, a step-brother to Arvo Pärt. The 2015 concertino for piano and small orchestra has passages of pure minimalism that would send easy-listening radio stations into raptures were it not for an ominous undercurrent of subversive irony. Everything Einaudi does, Silvestrov does so much better.

Finally, the 2003 symphony walks us through the mountains of Mahler’s 9th — an identifying quotation on the opening page — into the beckoning void of his unfinished 10th. It’s half-tribute, half-commentary on late Mahler, and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra performs it as tautly as any Mahler I have heard from the Vienna Philharmonic. It’s almost as if Mahler is speaking to us here from beyond the grave, running on with passing references to Britten and Shostakovich in a fabulous collage.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

Norman Lebrecht’s new book Genius and Anxiety is available now.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

PROFILE | Stephan Moccio: 'Time To Come Back To The Piano'

By Anya Wassenberg on September 3, 2020

Composer, producer and pianist Stephan Moccio talks about his brand new release of solo piano music, 'Tales of Solace'.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Toronto Symphony Announces New Drive-In Concert Series

By Michael Vincent on September 17, 2020

In a new partnership with CityView Drive-In, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will present three live and in-person performances next month.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE REMOTE PODCAST | Stewart Goodyear: "I'm here to stay"

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on September 18, 2020

Episode 2 of the REMOTE podcast: Toronto-based pianist Stewart Goodyear, talks about coping with the pandemic as a performer, the Black Lives Matter Movement as it pertains to the performing arts, and a brief history of his discography as a performer of colour. 
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.