Elegies - V. Artyomov
1.Lamentations Oleg Yanchenko, organ Moscow Philarmonic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko 2.Gurian Hymn Yevgeni Smirnov, Tatiana Grindenko, Yelena Adjemova, violins Moscow Philarmonic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko 3,4,5.A Symphony of Elegies Tatiana Grindenko, Oleh Krysha, violins Mark Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Saulius Sondeckis
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I rediscovered his music only recently, pulling out of my shelves an early Mobile Fidelity CD (with the same performance of "Gurian Hymn" as here, plus "Invocation" and the substantial "Way to Olympus" Symphony) that had failed to leave a long-lasting impression on first hearing, but which turned out to be much more interesting and original than I remembered (Artiomov:Way to Olympus). So I decided to explore more, and Artyomov's tremendous Requiem was my first catch, a piece worthy of Penderecki's mightiest choral compositions from the 1970s, like Saint-Luke Passion and Utrenja (I have it on Bohème, Requiem - Vyacheslav Artyomov, not available as I write, but the same performance is on Requiem and Requiem).
The present disc is one of three published in the ealry 1990s the British label Olympia, which, due to the vagaries of Soviet licensing, duplicated the contents of this earlier Mobile Fidelity CD: other than "Gurian Hymn" here, Way to Olympus was on Way(also available on Melodiya, Artyomov - Way - Timur Mynbaev, Dmitri Kitaenko), and Invocation on Vyacheslav Artyomov: Invocations - Totem; A Sonata of Meditations; Invocations; Ave atque vale. I've reviewed the two others andthey are fine discs, although the pieces on "Way" are not as typical of the composer's unique style as the ones featured here, and the 69-minutes of percussion ofthe other one, as fascinating as they are (especially in the vocal composition "Invocations") might prove too much for a start.
All three compositions here are very typical of Artyomov's mystical and "slow-motion" bent.
Lamentations (1986) is 12 minutes and 30 seconds of brooding, drooping utterances for strings, organ, and bells, sometimes rising to mighty climaxes. If you know Scriabin's Prelude op 74/2, a one-minute a descending chromatic ostinato, you'll get an idea: it is much the same thing, scored for strings and extended (maybe even over-extended) to over ten minutes.
Gurian Hymn is also from 1986. It is written for the rare combination of three solo violins, Strings and Percussion and it is magical. The three soloists unfold their folk-inspired and highly lyrical melismatas in their upper range, hover above a tapestry of strings and crystalline punctuations of bells.
A Symphony of Elegies is one of Artymov's most fascinating compositions. Composed in 1977, it was a watershed in the composer's development, signalling Artyomov's rejection of the modernist techniques he had adopted after completing is studies at the Moscow Conservatory (of which his Concerto for Violin, In Memoriam, featured on Olympia's companion disc Way, bears witness), and his adoption of a ritualistic, mystical and slow-moving style.
The excellent liner notes appropriately call it "the extended musical equivalent of eastern meditation". It is scored for 16 strings, two solo violins and 6 percussionists and consists of 43 minutes of slow-moving strings (the third Elegy being the longest, at 20+ minutes), with episodic punctuations of bells (a celesta I suppose) in the first Elegy, and more prominent gongs and other metal-percussion in the third; its minimalism (not the Steve Reich-John Adams repetitive branch, although the ritualistic and chamanistic aspect of Riley's String Quartets may come to mind) brings to mind the music of Giascinto Scelsi and Morton Feldman, with a pinch of Ligeti's Atmospheres.
TT 70 minutes, and I hear no sonic difference in "Gurian Hymn" with the Mobile Fidelity release. The same disc was published by Melodiya, apparently before this Olympia CD, although what you find under the disc's other entry on this website, Elegies, is the Olympia release (despite the misleading cover photo), and there is even a third entry under Elegies - V. Artyomov. With the Requiem, it is a fine introduction to the music of Artyomov, an original and fascinating voice that deserves to be heard.