Ukrainian-born Silvestrov wrote a series of great orchestral works in the 1980s and 90s which he refers to as metasymphonies – although some of them – the Postludium and Metamusik in particular (previously issued by ECM) – are not called symphonies. He perfected his so-called “metaphorical style” in vocal works, using poetic allusions, long-lost sounds and a highly developed sense of form. He creates a labyrinth around the transformations and fragmentations of a basic melody.
Silvestrov was one of the first composers in the Soviet Union to cast aside conventional avantgarde procedures along with any sense of experimentalism – he wanted to be free of all preconceived ideas. His music took on a slow expressive development with prolonged melodic lines and more of a Late-Romantic feeling than avantgarde. Reminders of nostalgic sounds of the past became strong elements in the music, which was a standard device used by Mahler. In fact, in the 25-minute center movement of the five in the Sixth Symphony, a theme is heard which will remind one of the Adagietto of Mahler’s Fifth. The bracketing four movements are only six or eight minutes length.
The 28-page illustrated note booklet presents two essays well worth reading on Silvestrov’s highly individual approach to symphonic writing. (This is quite unlike the notes to ECM’s jazz releases, which usually have nothing but photos with no texts.) The disc brings us powerful music which bears many hearings to absorb its labyrinthine densities. While I would have preferred even two-channel SACD to more easily delve into its many intricacies, the CD is well-recorded, with a high degree of instrumental clarity.
– John Sunier