Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937, Ukrainian)

The Ukrainian Valentin Silvestrov, born in 1937, started off as a post-Webern radical (the atmosphere seems to have been slightly more permissive in Ukraine in the early 1960s than it was nearer the heart of the Empire in Russia), but, as many of his generation (Pärt, Gorecki), he soon grew dissatisfied with the avant-garde and moved away from it, to adopt a more mystical, meditative and slow-moving style. That kind of “neo-simplicity” can be and has been a mixed blessing.

At its best, it has produced works of great fascination and originality, like his String Quartets, performed by the Lysenko Quartet on Etcetera 1151 (1993).

But the lowest and most appalling is reached with his trifling “bagatelles” for piano, as he calls them, performed by Jenny Lin on “Nostalghia”, Hänssler Classics CD 98.229 (2007). This is music for fans of Elton John or Yann Tiersen of “Amélie Poulain” fame, or/and for those who think the horizon of 21st century contemporary music should be Schubert and Mendelsssohn. I could go on but – read the review to know how badly I think of Silvestrov’s “new (e.g. old) direction”. I exceedingly rarely put a CD that has entered my collection back on sale, but this one is gone.

Somewhere in between, you have the three Piano Sonatas and Cello Sonata, performed by Alexei Lubimov and Ivan Monighetti on Erato  2292-45631-2 (1992)

These are the Silvestrov reviews I’ve so far transferred to this website.

Comments are welcome