SERGEI ZHUKOV (b.1951): Piano Concerto "Silentium" (Eleonora Bekova [piano], Karelia Philharmonic Orchestra; Marius Stravinsky), Violin Concerto “Angel’s Day” (Elvira Bekova [violin], Moscow State Symphony Orchestra; Konstantin Krimets).
Catalogue Number: 08U059
Label: Cameo Classics
Reference: CC 9105
Description: The Violin Concerto, in four movements, represents aspects of the nature of angels and their rôle in intercession between heaven and corporeal reality below. Zhukov's idiom is grounded in tonality and the concerto is essentially a large-scale neo-romantic virtuoso vehicle written for the present soloist. Out of the mysterious empyrean void the song of the angel, sung by the soloist in stratospheric register, ushers in an imposing vision of the echoing vaults of heaven in the first movement 'Morning Touch'. The second movement is a fleet, Mendelssohnian scherzo of the celestial messengers, in an idiom very reminiscent of the chiming minimalistic gestures and harmonies of Rabinovitch-Barakovsky. 'Vespers' brings us to earth in a solemn church service in New Spirituality style with descending figures like Pärt's tintinnabulary gestures, over which the violin intones prayers for the sins and suffering of humankind. A wildly pealing climax gives a glimpse of the majesty of the heavens, soon engulfed again in clouds and the chiming of recessional bells. The finale is an increasingly ecstatic “Night Ride” recapitulating the gestures of the scherzo and incorporating quotations of moments of transcendence from Verklärte Nacht. The Piano Concerto (03N082) takes its title from a poem by Osip Mandelstam, full of images of creation, birth, space, color and sound. The first movement presents a kind of creation-myth, in which fragments of contrasting textures echo in a void of silence, detached and unable to form more than fleeting concrete forms, finally achieving a glowing, harmonically lush coda. Part two is an agitated toccata, establishing a strong sense of tonality for the first time in the work, and finally unleashing the full forces of the large orchestra. The third part is still, ethereal, full of shimmering, impressionistic textures which coalesce briefly into a surging, harmonically sumptuous climax. The next movement is vigorous and motoric, led by the soloist's driven ostinato rhythms. By this stage the music is very tonal, and the piece seems propelled by the soloist's stabbing off-beat chords that punctuate the orchestra's richly harmonized fabric toward a cumulative peroration and bombastically triumphant close, à la Khachaturian. Unexpectedly, though, a brief coda follows, with the soloist playing stately arpeggiated figuration like that at the start of the last movement of the Busoni concerto and reciting the poem against a much reduced orchestral background; sound etched on the silence of the opening of the work. Piano concerto offered by us in 2012. Violin concerto new to Records International.