GRIGORI FRID (1915-2012): Symphony No. 3 for String Orchestra and Timpani, Op. 50, Concerto for Viola, Piano and String Orchestra, Op. 73, 2 Inventions for String Orchestra, Op. 43a.
Catalogue Number: 08V001
Description: Frid was among the many hugely talented musicians who managed somehow to flourish under the Soviet regime. His biography is not untypical - wars, deprivation, father sent to Siberia - but he maintained his individuality and creativity, not only as composer, but also painter, writer, educator and promoter of younger composers' music. His style developed throughout his career, from accomplished Russian-Soviet in his early works to a broader, more stylistically varied approach after the 1970s. The Symphony (1964) sounds broadly like Frid writing like Schnittke emulating Shostakovich (cf. the Concerti Grossi), and pre-dates the emergence of dodecaphony in Frid's music. The first movement is tough and sinewy, truculent and knottily contrapuntal in parts. The slow movement begins and ends very like a Shostakovich lament, perhaps an orchestral transcription of the slow movement of an unknown middle period quartet. The music gains in intensity and passion, arriving at a powerful climax punctuated by rolling thunderclaps from the timpani, before subsiding into the mood and material of the opening. The finale gallops and thunders its way via a thorny fugato section to a tense, ominous conclusion over a throbbing drumbeat. The inventions - one melancholy, the other energetic - are thoroughly tonal and bear the strong imprint of Shostakovich. The 1981 Concerto, while remaining approachable and emotionally involving, and grounded in tonality, unquestionably explores a wider stylistic range than the symphony. The first movement is tragic and brooding, almost immobile with a sense of anxious expectancy. Ominous ticking ushers in an active, obsessive scherzo which abandons some early attempts at melody in favor of a jittery danse macabre, suddenly overwhelmed by an almost sonoristic mass of orchestral texture which recedes into the background of a sadly aimless dialogue between the soloists. A somber piano cadenza opens the huge finale, as long as the other two movements combined. The viola enters for an inconsolable, desperately sad duet. The orchestra enters, and the music becomes ever more strident and passionate before collapsing in on itself. The final section is an utterly desolate elegy for the viola with only distant chimes from the piano and an occasional evanescent dust-devil from the strings for company. Isabelle van Keulen (viola), Oliver Triendl (piano), Georgian Chamber Orchestra Ingolstadt; Ruben Gazarian.