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The Canticle of the Sun [CD]

Gidon Kremer, Sofia Gubaidulina Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 Jan 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: ECM New Series
  • ASIN: B0066LS9Q4
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,922 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. The Lyre of Orpheus (2006)Gidon Kremer, Marta Sudraba & Kremerata Baltica23:52Album Only
Listen  2. The Canticle of the Sun (1997, Rev. 1998): Glorification of the Creator, and His Creations - the Sun and the MoonNicolas Altstaedt, Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Za?upe, Rostislav Krimer, Riga Chamber Choir Kam?r? & M?ris Sirmais10:12Album Only
Listen  3. The Canticle of the Sun (1997, Rev. 1998): Glorification of the Creator, the Maker of the Four Elements: Air, Water, Fire and EarthNicolas Altstaedt, Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Za?upe, Rostislav Krimer, Riga Chamber Choir Kam?r? & M?ris Sirmais13:19Album Only
Listen  4. The Canticle of the Sun (1997, Rev. 1998): Glorification of LifeNicolas Altstaedt, Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Za?upe, Rostislav Krimer, Riga Chamber Choir Kam?r? & M?ris Sirmais14:29Album Only
Listen  5. The Canticle of the Sun (1997, Rev. 1998): Glorification of DeathNicolas Altstaedt, Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Za?upe, Rostislav Krimer, Riga Chamber Choir Kam?r? & M?ris Sirmais 7:23Album Only

Product Description

Product Description

Sofia Gubaidulina's 80th birthday in October 2011 generated much press coverage around the world, appropriately stressing the uniqueness and the variety of her compositional approaches. Both are in evidence on this album of recordings from the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria. Gidon Kremer is the soloist and Kremerata Baltica the ensemble on the world premiere recording of The Lyre of Orpheus, dedicated to the memory of Gubaidulina's daughter, while cellist Nicolas Altstaedt takes the solo role in The Canticle of the Sun, which the composer wrote in tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 1997.

Gidon Kremer has long been a committed advocate of Gubaidulina's work, and the composer has praised the way the violinist seems to unleash music from the soul. In The Lyre of Orpheus, a work of austere beauty and raw lyricism, violin, string orchestra and percussion intermingle in new ways. At a subterranean level, the piece is also an exploration into acoustic phenomena and the physics of sound, with pulsating difference tones part of its underlying structures. It was recorded in 2006, a month after Kremer gave the first performance.

The Canticle of the Sun, recorded in 2010, revisits the celebrated piece composed for Mstislav Rostropovich for his 70th birthday. Rostropovich's famously sunny disposition was an inspiration, by association prompting Gubaidulina to set St Francis of Assissi's "Canticle of the Sun" for choir. In his ECM recording debut, the young German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, a current BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, takes on the highly expressive lead role. A further, timely, Lockenhaus connection here: in 2012 Altsteadt takes over from Kremer as the new director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival.

Personnel: Gidon Kremer (violin), Marta Sudraba (cello), Kremerata Baltica; Nicolas Altstaedt (cello), Andrei Pushkarev, Rihards Zalupe (percussion), Rostislav Krimer (celesta), Chamber Choir Kamer..., Maris Sirmais (conductor)

Product Description

ECM 2256; ECM RECORDS - Germania; Classica contemporanea Cameristica

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous 13 Mar 2012
Format:Audio CD
Although this, the second all-Gubaidulina release on ECM, carries the title of one her best-known pieces "Canticle of the Sun", of at least equal interest should be the first recording of the other composition "Lyre of Orpheus", which was both premiered and recorded in 2006 by Gidon Kremer and his touring ensemble. This 24-minute piece for strings and percussion can be given a clear psychological interpretation with the key word being pain, meaning the pain felt after losing a daughter in a car accident, as in fact happened to Gubaidulina in 2004. The accident itself is portrayed at around the 15 minute mark, it is preceded by frightened premonitions of the event and followed by a graphic representation of the various stages that follow such a loss, like shock, anger, despair, realization and finally resignation. I can clearly remember reading this interpretation at the time of the premiere of what as a result is a very powerful and harrowing piece but strangely enough it is not mentioned in the booklet, where instead a purely music-theoretical and somewhat hard-to-follow explanation is given which is very much at odds with the obvious emotional impact of this piece.
The Canticle has been recorded at least three times before, initially by its dedicatee Rostropovich, and on this recording Nicolas Altstaedt gives an equally eloquent and pronounced reading of the main cello part. Gubaidulina's magical ritualistic meditation on big themes Life, Death, the Sun and the Moon and the four ancient elements is given a meticulous reading here, for me the choir stands out in particular as well, being from Latvia where all the best choirs seem to originate these days.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aching cello melody trailing off, solo, like a comet's tail... 9 Mar 2012
By Steven H. Koenig - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Sofia Gubaidulina, now 80 years old, comes from the 1960s Russian avant-garde, well-established within both the free improvisation and classical music scenes. Some of her free improv work can be found on Leo Records anthologies. She's also considered one of the most original East European/Russian mystical composers, not content to let mere softness of tone represent spiritual forces.

The Lyre of Orpheus opens with just the slightest of tintinnabulation, then to slow-progressing slashes of strings. This erstwhile violin concerto, billed as "for violin, percussion and orchestra," has lots of delicious moments, with string glissandi, and parts where the strings play so high they wiggle and whistle. I tend to enjoy fragments of this work more than I do the piece as a whole, which, by the way, is the first part of an extended triptych; still, totally enjoyable.

The Canticle of the Sun, giving the album its title and written for Mstislav Rostropovich, uses similar forces plus a chorus, and uses the same type of material (glissandi, bells, aching cello instead of aching violin). The composer gives Messiaen-style titles to each of the four movements, such as "Glorification of the The Creator, the Maker of the Four Elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth."

The composition opens with a tinkling which glides into high soprano voice, and then shortly a rich bass voice comes in. The cello and chorus intermingle, the chorus sighing happily, then dancing with bells and triangle.

Cellist Nicolas Alstaedt plays with the most human-voiced expression imaginable, integrating even the most "avant garde" squiggles and scrapes seamlessly with Bach-Suites-like draws. He also fits as one with the chorus and orchestra. The Riga Chamber Choir too is most beautiful and, dare I say, welcoming of tone.

The piece ends with a drone, and cello punctuations which bring to mind George Crumb, then an aching cello melody with resonant percussion, and beautifully sad choral recitation in the final movement, "Glorification of Death," which ultimately concludes with the chorus sounding at peace among star-like tintinnabulation, and the cello trailing off, solo, like a comet's tail.

The Canticle of the Sun is riveting from start to final haunting note.

Editor, AcousticLevitation dot org
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another recording of "The Canticle of the Sun" is welcome enough, but "The Lyre of Orpheus" is the big draw here 11 Nov 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This ECM release from 2012 brings us two pieces by Sofia Gubaidulina, the Russian composer with a deeply spiritual inclination.

The first of these pieces, "The Canticle of the Sun" for cello, mixed choir and percussion (1997), has been recorded several times now, including by its dedicatee Mstislav Rostropovich on an EMI disc. Here is performed by cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and the Riga Chamber Choir conducted by Martis Sirmais. It sets Francis of Assisi's poem praising God for the beauty of the natural world, but unexpectedly the choral setting is very plain, while all expression is given to the cello. However, the cellist occasionally gives up his independent role, emulating the percussionists by beating his instrument with a stick, and even joining them when he puts down his bow and plays a bass drum with a rubber ball. This is a solid performance of a quietly epic piece, Gubaidulina's biggest work of the 1990s, but I have to say I prefer the Rostropovich recording.

I was really looking forward to this disc for the world premiere recording of "The Lyre of Orpheus" for violin, strings and percussion (2006), previously only available as a murky radio recording passed around by fans. Written for Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica, who perform here in a recording from the 2006 Lockenhaus Festival, it is a violin concerto in all but name. In fact, it deserved to be Gubaidulina's Violin Concerto No. 2 much more than the disappointing "In tempus praesens" she wrote for Anne-Sophie Mutter. But the piece is also a major step forward in Gubaidulina's numerical mysticism, which has been a major part of her music since she started dabbling with the Fibonacci Sequence in the 1980s. Here she is interested in the difference tones created when two notes at a given interval are played. These difference tones are not always audible, but their proportions can provide a form to the piece. Yet again Gubaidulina has written a work where, in spite of some fine melodic writing, it is as if the very passage of time itself is the sublime aspect of the music.

The liner notes are quite nice, being Gubaidulina's detailed programme notes for the two pieces, including notation examples of the new musical concepts in "The Lyre of Orpheus". While I don't think this would be an ideal introduction to Gubaidulina's music, fans should definitely get this.
1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible 31 May 2013
By Dolores Melvin - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a horribly done for such a beautiful canticle. The instrumentation is poor. I found no enjoyment in it at all and it does not relate to the message of the canticle.
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