Mstation Classical Reviews

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Sat, 03 Feb 2007

Nikolay Roslavets

Chamber Symphony and In the hours of the New Moon

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov

CD, Hyperion

This music is some of the most fascinating I have heard in a long time. I had not come across Roslavets before now. His compositional technique is highly advanced for his time, and unique; a great thing during this time of great change in both music and the world itself.

We open with Roslavets Chamber Symphony (1934/5). Interestingly it has a sister composition entitled the 'Roslavets Symphony', completed and orchestrated by Raskatov. It is the larger of the two works, completed in Moscow, but never performed. His contemporary, Myaskovsky is said to have been impressed by the work, but the recent criticism of Shostakovich seemingly restricted the enthusiasm to perform such Modernist/Impressionistic works. His orchestration is highly successful, creating a well-balanced sound (the performance skills of the BBC Scottish aside). His use of piano, to my ears, helps the precision of the articulation and textures. A very sharp/icy sound in the upper strings blends beautifully with the lush, lower strings. The harmonic structure is heavily chromatic, but hints at traditional tonality (particularly at the conclusion).

An excellent work! I encourage you to listen again and again to try to understand what Roslavets is describing to us. No records of his thoughts appear to exist for this work so it is up to each one of us.

In the hours of the New Moon (c.1910) is in contrast, very secretive. From the outset the music is written in such a way that it entices to listen harder, drawing us in towards

This is an excellent recording of music from a composer much suppressed by his country particularly after his death (1944) as recently as the 1980s; it is very well worth listening to and researching all you can about Nikolay Roslavets. ( E Walton)

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