EDISON DENISOV (1929-1996): Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, Au plus haut des cieux for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, 5 romances d'Anna Akhmatova for Soprano and Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 01O065
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Reference: HMC 905268
Description: These are late works in the composer's output, all bearing the unmistakable stamp of his mature style; philosophically, spiritually questing, even in the 'pure music' of works without texts; a thoroughly modern, atonal idiom in which it is impossible not to hear persistent tonal referents and centers, and an intricate richness of crystal-clear harmony and counterpoint. The two Chamber Symphonies epitomize this approach; all the instruments are treated in a concertante manner, with individual parts often evoking vocal lines like melancholy arias, duets and ensembles in some unspecified tragedy. Despite the modernism of the vocabulary, a sense of Romantic tension and resolution pervades this music. 'In Highest Heaven' sets texts of Georges Bataille, dealing with themes of anguish, death and the role of faith and philosophy in transcending them. As in the symphonies, the instrumental textures are a model of clarity and originality of timbre, the vocal line a beautifully expressive and lyrical glowing thread woven into the counterpoint of instrumental lines; scurrying, clustered string textures, frequently used by Denisov as the 'Theme of the Wind', blow through the fabric of the music. The Akhmatova songs are Denisov's orchestration of music by his wife, more conventionally chromatic and traditionally late-romantic than his own style, but clearly influenced by it. French, Russian texts. Brigitte Peyré (soprano), Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain; Daniel Kawka.