Thursday, October 18, 2018
Vyacheslav Artyomov, A Symphony of Elegies and Other Works
The album covers three major works. There is the phenomenal orchestral "A Symphony of Elegies," the violin duo "Awakening," amd "Incantations" for soprano and percussion ensemble.
"A Symphoiny of Elegies" constitutes one of Artyomov's masterworks. It is in fact his very first symphony, which he composed in the mountains of Armenia in 1977. It is a sonically stunning, major and essential foray into meditative moodiness that somehow manages to straddle later Messiaen and Morton Feldman in his quietly mysterious phase, yet in the end it is pure Artyomov. There is a breathtaking beauty to the way Artyomov hangs in the sunlight delicately ethereal clouds of mysterious sustains with beautifully grey and luminescent pastels of colored light-sound. This music for all its 44 minutes heightens the floating sensation of inner-outer chambered yet vast expanses of space. There is notable space for two upper-register solo violins who according to the composer represents observing from above. They are violin bridging figures. intimacies that continually tie before with after--almost like the string part of a Gagaku piece, then gradually become more overarchingly continuous. A D.T. Suzuki quotation serves to help set the mood for the the work: "All these are but moments in our innermost life, which revives and touches Eternity." This is ravishing music.
"Awakening" continues and extends the mysterious and reflective mood, this time with two violins alone. They epitomize an entire universe of sound with compact means and so manage to evoke a great deal in the most eloquent and elegant of ways. Ravishing.
"Incantations" sprawls into space with four fairly compact musical movements. It has a very lively vocal part and hews nicely to the sort of percussion group middle ground, neither always pulsating nor strictly event-in-space minded, yet then in the end it bursts forward with ritual pulsations that evoke some mythical ritual world in very unique terms, evoking perhaps Ima Sumac and Messiaen's middle period vocal works via a certain atmospherically "ethnic" panorama, but in no case derivative but rather completely Artyomov-idiomatic. It is a fittingly upbeat and, as the work proceeds, a rather haunting ending to a very nicely moody and reflective program.
And so we have it, an intriguing and rewarding new volume in what I hope will be a very widespread and lasting Artyomov revival. He is a Russian master that has suffered neglect for far too long. It is time we celebrate his music. I do very much recommend this one to you. It is High Modern in a very evocative way. It is not easily forgotten once you give it your full attention! Bravo!