FARADZH KARAYEV (b.1943): Violin Concerto (Patricia Kopatchinskaya [violin], Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra; Rauf Abullayev}, Vingt ans après - nostalgie (Russian State Symphony Capella; Valery Polyansky).
Catalogue Number: 02R044
Label: Paladino Music
Reference: pmr 0070
Description: The concerto is dedicated to the memory of the composer's mother, and it is an emotionally (and for that matter, musically) complicated work, and it does not give up its secrets easily. Karayev's idiom is uncompromisingly modern, with dense textures and a high degree of dissonance, but nonetheless manages to convey a great deal of pain and nostalgia, and the work ends up as a profoundly moving statement. The first movement, though, sounds disconcertingly abstract; little gestures flung around, a lot of activity from the soloist, but the title 'variations without a theme' sums up its apparent lack of focus. Suddenly, though, the music stops, and resolves itself into a series of gestures quoted from various Romantic concerti, ushering in the second movement, 'Themes and Allusions', which derives its material - very obliquely - from this recurring, fragmentary material. Karaev's orchestral textures are unusual, with the entire family of flutes and clarinets multiply represented for instance, and he often builds dense blocks of sound out of little notated fragments repeated with flexible co-ordination - the sort of thing Lutosławski did in short aleatoric passages, but here used as a primary structural device. The third movement, which constitutes about half the piece, consists of four sections, described as 'variations', quite distinct, culminating in a slow, funereal passage which suddenly gives way to the 'theme', which turns out to be Grieg's Lyric Piece 'Homesickness', which in retrospect had pervaded the whole piece. This revelation focuses the message of the whole piece, and carries considerable emotional impact. The solo part is terrifyingly active and virtuosic throughout much of the work, requiring extraordinary precision in a large range of technical devices. The 'concerto for orchestra', Vingt ans après, is - a bit - more conventional, but features the same timbrally expanded, large orchestra, and similar instrumental techniques, though in generally less massed sound-formations. In four movements, it follows a roughly symphonic outline, with a slow introductory movement that accumulates texture from small, unconnected repeating gestures; a sort of vigorous scherzo; a mysterious, nocturnal movement which contains some writing that might almost be described as conventionally melodic, interrupted by a massive chordal outburst surrounded by quasi-aleatoric figuration. This gathers intensity, and leads into the sombre, withdrawn finale, dominated by tolling chords and cluster glissandi. It is here that the piece's meaning, as a heartbroken in memoriam for the composer's colleagues Schnittke and Denisov, becomes clear.