I'd never heard of Ivan Karabits before acquiring this fine recording. I was aware of his son's work as the BSO's conductor. His recording of Rodion Shchedrin's Fourth and Fifth Concertos for Orchestra was a great success and this music is very similar to that. Ivan Karabits died at the comparatively youthful age of 57 in 2002 with his music hardly known here. the three Concertos for orchestra presented here show a composer with a fine command of orchestration, a sense of history and theatre. the concertos present contrasting moods but if you start with Stravinsky's "Shrovetide fair" from Petrushka you get a fair idea of what to expect. there is a great deal of colour with much Russian style clanging bells and percussion, Soloists and small sections of the orchestra are spotlit as you might expect.
The programme is well organised with the Second concerto playing first followed then by the Third "Lamentations" and then the First. The First and Second are bright and colourful with the First, a tribute to Kiev, having a strong whiff of Mussorgsky and the Russian nationalists as well as more jazzy elements. The Second is similarly outgoing but the third commemorates two twentieth century disasters- Ukraine's Stalin inspired 1930's famine and Chernobyl. Wrapping up this moving piece with the theatrical touch of th econductor leaving the podium to play the piano an dmembers of the orchestra humming along mournfully is very Schnittkeque and effective but how can music fully capture the horror of this two terrible events.
The final two works belong to a better known Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov. Both short works pay tribute to Karabits. The Elegy is his reworking and completion of a work that Karabits began himself: it still sounds like classic Silvestrov with its distant romanticism. The same is true of the following Serenade. There's not much of Karabits' music recorded but the two small pieces by Silvestrov give a glimpse of his own wonderful Fifth and Sixth Symphonies; both well recorded and available.
It should come as no surprise that Kirill Karabits and the BSO showcase all these works superbly and are assisted by a clear and vivid recording by the Naxos sound engineers. If you don't know either of these composers then there's nothing to be scared of; this is instantly appealing music well worth getting to know.
Some very interesting contemporary orchestral music. BSO plays very well under its new(ish) young conductor. A fine job done with some quite difficult sounding music. Bartok certainly comes to mind,being among the first to compose a Concerto for Orchestra. But this one comes from a different,if related compositional tradition. Excellent playing. An important addition to musical literature. Well worth hearing:and having.