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

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

26 Jul 1994
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 26 July 1994
  • Release Date: 1 Jun. 1993
  • Label: Chandos
  • Copyright: (C) 1993 Chandos
  • Total Length: 52:10
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001MVUWDG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,045 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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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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