Gubaidulina: Stimmen ...Verstummen / Stupeni (Steps)
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Gubaidulina: Stimmen ...Verstummen / Stupeni (Steps)

1 Jun 1993 | Format: MP3

£7.49 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 26 July 1994
  • Label: Chandos
  • Copyright: (C) 1993 Chandos
  • Total Length: 52:10
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,352 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ivar de Vries on 18 Sep 2008
Format: Audio CD
On this, his only all-Gubaidulina release, old friend Rozhdestvensky conducts the Stimmen... Verstummen symphony dedicated to him and also acts as narrator in the other piece Stufen.
The large-scale symphony completed in 1986 uses a full orchestra and, somewhat unusually for this composer, features major parts for all wind-instruments that are occasionally played using extended techniques. Less unusually there are also extensive parts for various percussion instruments including xylophones. Still the music sounds not at all crowded and is scored very transparently, which makes for a fascinating and very colourful atmosphere, especially in the fairytale-like movement that recurs throughout which I suppose makes this a symphonic work rather than episodic. Its title neatly describes the piece's form: at first everything "tunes up" towards the central eleven-minute climax after which everything "quiets down" towards the dream-like finale.
More or less the same applies to companion piece Stufen which dates from 1992 and I'd say actually is episodic, as again implied by its title which translates as "stages". Here the atmosphere is slightly darker and there's more to do for the string sections of the fine Stockholm Philharmonic. The final stage weaves together several strands of Rozhdestvensky speaking unspecified Russian texts.
To conclude, another indispensible disc for Gubaidulina collectors, because Stufen has not been released elsewhere whereas the symphony is only otherwise available in the large Schönberg Ensemble Edition box-set.
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Format: Audio CD
Re-listening to this after a gap of some 8 years and on a vastly superior hi fidelity system I am astounded by the sonics. It really pushes the CD medium to its absolute limit. If you are looking for a TEST disc in the modern music department then this is it!

The music itself is colourful, explorative and atmospheric. Having said that the 12 .part symphony is mostly linear with transparent textures and the odd familiar snatch of traditional melody and musical form. When it builds to a climax it does so remorselessly with threat. However, there are many sections of an ethereal beauty I have never encountered anywhere else. The nearest I have found to compare is Jan Peter Wagemans' De Zevende Symfonie though that is cast in a more traditional full orchestra setting. This disc's two pieces are effectively written for chamber orchestra - or full orchestra because of the augmented percussion which features heavily with the strings, playing like a chamber orchestra. I did not detect much writing for wind instruments. But if you like subtle percussion you will love this disc.

After Wagemans, the only other direct comparison I can think of is the iconic Gyorgy Ligeti of Lux Aeterna fame: the same creepiness in the music prevails. Interesting always, at times intense and gripping. However, a word of warning. Gubaidulina is to my mind an UNEVEN composer...I purchased the twin disc by Chandos of the Bassoon Concerto and let it go as I found it tedious as hell. All of her goodies seem to be stuffed into Stimmen...Verstummen. Even the title intrigues....

However, in terms of a workout for your audiophile system it is a great disc. It even goes some way to proving the marketing banner put out by the inventor of the CD disc, Philips, that "CD represents perfect sound"!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Contains one of the most striking symphonies ever written 26 Mar 2005
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This Chandos disc contains two pieces by Sofia Gubaidulina performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky, the first being "Symphony: Stimmen ...Verstummen" (1986) and the second "Stufen" (1992). The works here are almost Gubaidulina's finest, and this disc is an essential purchase for any fan of the composer.

The 12-movement "Stimmen ...Verstummen" ("Voices ...fall dumb", also known by its Russian title meaning "I hear ...silence") is Gubaidulina's only symphony, and what a work it is! It is one of her most profoundly religious works, right up there with her JOHANNES-PASSION and JOHANNES-OSTERN in its praise of God and metaphysical heights. At the same time, it is among the most notable of her "zahlenmystik" compositions, with the Fibonacci sequence being an important basis.

The work begins with a long, vibrant D-major triad which continues for over a minute before a D-flat triad invades, thus ending the first movement. Common opinion is nearly unanimous that the D-major triad represents divine perfection, and the pattern of the music is a frequent return to this pure triad while intervening sections of opposing sounds (representing sin?) grow ever longer, with the eight being the longest and the work's climax. In the tenth movement, the work strikingly changes as the triad is taken down from D major to G major, possibly representing the Incarnation. From there, the music continues as before until the twelfth and last movement, when all the orchestra's forces are unleased and the music is made liberal through improvisatory and aleatoric writing. One element that listeners of a recording will miss out on, however, is the "conductor's solo" in the 9th movement, when the conductor moves his hands ever more greatly apart according to the Fibonacci sequence before a silent orchestra. The piece live uses a much greater use of silence, and that's why the recording here is only 36 minutes long when the work is listed as 42 minutes in duration in Gubaidulina's catalogue.

The symphony was dedicated to Gennady Rozhdestvensky, who gave the world premiere in West Berlin in 1986 with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. We are fortunate indeed that he was able to return for this recording. This is Gubaidulina at her best. Frankly, I cannot understand why there are three recordings out of her recent "Canticle to the Sun" and several of her "Offertorium" violin concerto, but only one take on this amazing piece in nearly two decades.

"Stufen" is a one-movement piece for a massive orchestra, with a 60-piece string section (with eight double-basses!), built on principles similar to the symphony. Here aleatoric and improvisational licence is even greater, in fact Mellers in his notes seems to see Gubaidulina approximating Cage, but that's going to far. It ends with a narrator--here Rozhdestvensky--reading a poem (by Reiner Maria Rilke, although oddly the liner notes nowhere credit him) translated into Russian, and the recording of this reading is overdubbed several times, each overdub introduced a few seconds after the last, creating interference between them. "Stufen" is not as immediately rewarding as "Stimmen ...Verstummen", and in its individual portraying of various orchestral groups is somewhat uneven. Still, it manages to not disappoint though it has to follow the symphony.

The performance here is top-notch, with superb sound quality. The liner notes are interesting, with a profile of Gubaidulina and musicological analysis by Wilfred Mellers. The poem read in "Stufen" is given in Russian, German, English, and French, though the Russian version is annoyingly transliterated into the Latin alphabet.

This is perhaps not the best introduction to the work of Sofia Gubaidulina. One should get her JOHANNES-PASSION or (an economical choice) the SEVEN WORDS disc on Naxos. However, this is a purchase you should make as soon as possible after becoming acquainted with the work of this singular composer. Very, very highly recommended.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Musical vision and originality of the highest order 9 Feb 2004
By Autonomeus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
"Stimmen ... Verstummen" (I hear ... silence) is Sofia Gubaidulina's only symphony. It's certainly quality over quantity! Superlatives fail me -- this 1986 composition is among the absolute best orchestral works of the late 20th century.

The form is entirely unconventional, with 12 movements, some less than a minute long, and the longest one 11 minutes (34 minutes total). The fulcrum of the work is a trilling, shimmering D major. It opens and closes the work, and reappears several times in between. In between these sublime and mysterious moments there is development, sometimes harsh and dissonant, sometimes striving upward and culminating in great crashing blows. But always the quiet trilling returns.

Knowing that Gubaidulina is a deeply religious person, it seems only obvious that the D-major represents God. I can imagine several stories or themes that the seemingly rebellious passages would fit into, but the beauty of music is its openness to interpretation. (The eternal shimmering beauty could be the Dao... )

The second piece, the 18-minute "Stufen" (Steps -- 1992) seems to continue organically from the symphony -- it begins quietly, and then develops into sustained dissonance and development like one of its longer passages. It ends with a spoken passage of poetry, read by the conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

Rozhdestvensky and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra perform wonderfully -- it is clear that he is perfectly in tune with the composer's intentions. There are many people who cannot find anything to love in modern music. This unorthodox symphony might win many such people over with the recurrent major-key tonality anchoring the brilliant excursions into post-serialist complexity.

These works deserve to be seen as masterpieces the late 20th century music.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Sofia Asgatovna and the Sublime 24 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Stimmen symphony is one of the great peaks of Gubaidulina's career, a looping, moody work centered around a D major triad and then slowly metamorphoses in and out of itself, moving into an inexplicable transcendence. Stufen, the other work on this disc, is very moving also, but a bit more frazzled than Stimmen. Ensemble and conductor are superb as well. One of the best CDs I've bought this year!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic!! 20 July 2014
By Gordon J Kennedy - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Fantastic modern classical performance and recording. It is my favorite Gubaidulina recording. A must for Gubaidulina fans.
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