1995, Music

Seven Words; Silenzio; In croce (1995) by Sofia Gubaidulina, performed by Maria Kliegel, Elsbeth Moser et al.

This is just an awesome set of really challenging modern chamber music, sort of smaller versions of what Penderecki was up to, I guess. The set contains three works by Gubaidulina centered around the cello and the bayan, a Russian version of the accordion.

In Croce for bayan and cello (1979, 1991)

In croce is a duet for cello and bayan, and ranges from almost horror-movie film score intensity to a sort of meandering exploration of space. And then that builds back – there is a really strong use of dynamics. And the cello really gets into its upper register.

  • Elsbeth Moser: bayan
  • Maria Kliegel: cello

Silenzio for bayan, violin and cello

I have always had a thing against pieces being named “Silence” but “Silenzio” is another fascinating exploration of this unusual instrumentation, though it is considerably milder (relatively speaking).

[Five movements]

  • Elsbeth Moser: bayan
  • Maria Kliegel: cello
  • Kathrin Rabus: violin

Sieben Worte for cello, bayan, and strings

Seven Words is, I think, one of the landmark chamber pieces of the 1980s. The piece manages to encompass multiple recent trends in music – touching on ‘Holy Minimalism’, other drone-oriented music and Gubaidulina’s own tradition, which seems vaguely “sonoristic”, and more traditional forms, all while using an accordion!

And despite its semi-radical nature, it manages to be so emotionally resonant (in a way that so few avant garde pieces are).

I have never heard anything like it. Amazing.

  1. “Vater, Vergib Ihnen, Denn Sie Wissen Nicht, Was Sie Tun” (“Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do”) 4:28
  2. “Weib, Siehe, Das Ist Dein Sohn. – Siehe, Das Ist Deine Mutter” (“Woman, Behold Thy Son. Son, Behold Thy Mother”) 4:12
  3. “Wahrlich, Ich Sage Dir: Heute Wirst Du Mit Mir Im Paradiese Sein” (“Verily, I Say Unto Thee: Today Thou Shalt Be With Me In Paradise”) 3:49
  4. “Mein Gott, Mein Gott, Warum Hast Du Mich Verlassen?” (“My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”) 9:10
  5. “Mich Dürstet” (“I Thirst”) 4:48
  6. “Es Ist Vollbracht” (“It Is Accomplished”) 2:52
  7. “Vater, Ich Befehle Meinen Geist In Deine Hände” (“Father, Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit”)
  • Elsbeth Moser: bayan
  • Maria Kliegel: cello
  • Strings: Camerata Transylvanica, conducted by Gyorgy Selmeczi

The set is structured thoughtfully as well, as it builds from duo to trio to ensemble. I wish that much care was taken more often.


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