AVET TERTERIAN (1929-1994): Symphony No. 3 for Duduk, Zurna and Large Symphony Orchestra, Symphony No. 4.
Catalogue Number: 11V008
Reference: CHSA 5241
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: "We are all living on the threshold of a terrible apocalyptic judgement. It has always seemed to me that my symphonies are a cry of the soul for salvation and for the forgiveness of sins." Thus Terterian, succinctly summing up the reasons why his deeply unsettling symphonies sound the way they do. The third symphony (1975) is a contemplation of the depths of human tragedy, prompted by the death of the composer’s brother. It draws on the traditional music of his native Armenia, though in a manner that has very little in common with the technicolor opulence of Khachaturian. After a stunning opening sequence from the massed percussion, suggesting primitive tribal drumming, the movement continues with the emulation of archaic, ritualistic horn calls uttered by whooping orchestral horns in partnership with pairs of zurnas and duduks, melancholy and strident folk wind instruments, which have a prominent role in the symphony. The central section of the movement consists of amorphous clouds of clustered string texture followed by a return of the explosive opening material. Thus the first movement alternates violence and pained contemplation; the second is a funeral lament with bells and the rattle of earth falling on a coffin; the finale is an overwhelmingly and unrelentingly wild, percussively rhythmic dance, punctuated by brass chords blasting through the texture and surmounted by the fiendish screeching of the zurnas. The Fourth was written immediately after the Third and continues the theme of loss and mourning, this time perhaps placing personal grief and anger in the context of cosmic scale. The symphony begins with bell strokes and a distant, dreamlike harpsichord, then a quiet, increasingly complex cluster which swells and intensifies, threatening to become unbearable until it climaxes as a sonorist tumult equal to anything in the 3rd symphony, capped by saurian screams and snarls from the brass. Strange whining, mocking and tapping textures follow, receding to leave only the rippling of the harpsichord. A sudden Romantic horn-call summons an eerie, full-textured string cluster which resolves into a chord and then returns to its dissonant beginnings. The harpsichord and a chiming celesta are supplanted by a dull, thudding, implacable rhythm which persists to the end of the work. A passage of screaming from winds and brass gives way to a fading cluster, then to receding mutterings in the lowest registers of the orchestra, and a final return to the opening bells. Tigran Aleksanyan, Vahe Hovanesian (duduk, zurna), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Kirill Karabits.