VYACHESLAV ARTYOMOV (b.1946): Symphony “On the Threshold of a Bright World”, Ave atque vale for Percussion and Orchestra, Ave, Crux Alba for Choir (Helikon Theatre Choir, Moscow).
Catalogue Number: 11S069
Label: Divine Art
Reference: dda 25143
Description: Artyomov is an unusual figure in Russian music; his compositional style bears almost no trace of Socialist Realism, but neither is he a member of the progressive avant garde who flouted the rules to much official disapproval until the Soviet Union collapsed - Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Silvestrov et al - though his music had scant acceptance in the Brezhnev years. Much of his music has a spiritual message, and much speaks on a grand scale; in both respects he appears as a direct descendent of Scriabin, and there are many points of stylistic contact to reinforce this view. The symphony On the Threshold of a Bright World was written just as the collapse of Communism roiled Eastern Europe in 1990-91, and characteristically Artyomov sees it as depicting the spiritual struggle for Russia to recover its soul as much as the turbulent events of the time. A large-scale work lasting nearly 40 minutes, it is divided into 18 short, strongly contrasting linked 'episodes' charting an evolving dramatic narrative; moreover it forms the second part of a huge 4-symphony cycle entitled 'Symphony of the Way', which explores a kind of spiritual cosmology. In intent and expression the work seems to belong to the romantic tradition, though in form and vocabulary - the latter based in tonality of a rather extended sort, and liberally spiced with pungent dissonance - it presents an unusual and highly individual kind of modernism. Ave Atque Vale is a brief percussion concerto in which the orchestra and a succession of solo instruments draw ever closer into rhythmic and textural unity, while the hymn is short, tonal, very Russian-romantic and grandly uplifting. Rostislav Shatayevsky (percussion), National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia; Vladimir Ashkenazy.