Silvestrov: Silent Songs

Silvestrov: Silent Songs

by Sergey Yakovenko
     
 

Valentin Silvestrov's four-part "Silent Songs" is like no other song cycle you've heard. Completely eschewing overt expression, drama, and vocalism, lasting nearly two hours in performance, and remaining always as soft as humanly possible, it drifts through the air in an irresolute haze -- never competing for your attention, but never allowing you to forget it's there…  See more details below

Overview

Valentin Silvestrov's four-part "Silent Songs" is like no other song cycle you've heard. Completely eschewing overt expression, drama, and vocalism, lasting nearly two hours in performance, and remaining always as soft as humanly possible, it drifts through the air in an irresolute haze -- never competing for your attention, but never allowing you to forget it's there. The effect is as close to that of ambient music as vocal music can get: affecting you, but on mostly unconscious levels. How you respond will depend on your ability to accept the work on its own terms: it never lets up; it never gets faster, louder, or more dramatic; and it never goes out of its way to help you understand what's going on. Instead it just floats there, shimmering, ebbing just enough to remind you that it's breathing, but never enough to shatter the quietude. If you can adjust your ears to the reality that there is no "payoff," and no robust counterweight to all of that delicacy, you may find it transfixing. Otherwise it will drive you nuts. Baritone Serguei Yakovenko and pianist Ilya Scheps go the distance for Silvestrov on this ECM release, which was actually recorded for the Russian Melodiya label in 1986, but not issued. The restraint is remarkable, especially for Yakovenko, who sings two hours of music without ever revealing the full sound of his voice. Instead, he spends nearly every second in a very specialized half-voice, so nearly whispered that it's sometimes inaudible. And Scheps' pianism is miraculously even-keeled, establishing impossibly fine gradations of softness and sticking with them for many minutes on end. The commitment of both musicians makes this as perfect a realization of Silvestrov's vision as is ever likely to be made. All composers should be so lucky.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/19/2004
Label:
Ecm Import
UPC:
0602498214244
catalogNumber:
9821424
Rank:
57910

Tracks

  1. Silent Songs, cycle for baritone & piano  - Valentin Silvestrov  - John Keats  - Mikhail Lermontov  - Alexander Pushkin  - Percy Bysshe Shelley  - Vasily Zhukovsky  - Fyodor Tyutchev  - Osip Mandelstam  - Ilya Scheps  - Sergey Yakovenko  - Yevgeny Baratynsky  - E.P. Griffiths  - Sergey Yesenin  - Taras Shevchenko
  2. Songs (4) after Osip Mandelstam, for vocie & piano  - Valentin Silvestrov  - Valentin Silvestrov  - Alexander Pushkin  - Osip Mandelstam  - Sergey Yakovenko  - E.P. Griffiths

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