Bibik: Complete Sonatas for Violin & Piano (Indesens Records)
Have we forgotten Ukraine?
Not if I have anything to do with it.
I’ve been listening to the violin sonatas of Valentin Bibik, a much-neglected composer who spent much of his career teaching at the Conservatoire in Kharkiv, a marginal figure in a borderline country. In the 1990s he moved to St Petersburg, then to Israel, where he obtained a post at the Tel Aviv conservatory, was named composer of the year in 2001 and died very soon after, aged 62. By accident, he had a foot in each of our current wars.
His sonatas, composed or revised in the 1990s, reflect a world in transition and a composer who cannot decide which part of it to cling to — the Soviet past, the turbulent present, or a post-modern future. Draw a line from late Shostakovich to mid-Lutoslawski and you’ll grasp the musical idiom. But add a trace of Pärt and Gorecki and a larger picture emerges.
This is fascinating music, compellingly played by violinist Annabelle Berthomé-Reynolds and pianist Luka Okros. We need to hear more of Bibik. He sounds completely of this moment.
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