Friday, 2 December 2016
Vyacheslav Artyomov - Elegies (1990 compi, rec. 1983/1987)
Both of the self-contained shorter works on this disc, Lamentations for strings, percussion, piano and organ (1985) and Gurian Hymn for three solo violins, strings and percussion (1986) are beautiful icy blasts of melancholy that are starting to sink in much more for me at this time of year than when I got the CD in high summer. Long, mournful string lines and twinkling, eerie percussion giving way to solemn bell-tones are the order of the day for these two bewitching pieces.
Taking up the rest of the disc is the three-movement Symphony of Elegies (1977), inspired, according to Artyomov, by some time spent in the Armenian mountains. The writing for strings here approaches the kind of dense, chromatic clusters you'll find in Ligeti's most unsettling work, and the 20-minute third movement is a thing of otherworldy wonder, giving the chiming bells an austere, mystical centre-stage.
All in all, just the kind of wonderful, haunting music to get its composer blacklisted by the Soviet musical establishment, along with a handful of equally fascinating composers - I'm already starting to like the sound of Denisov's first symphony. But for today, enjoy this handy Artyomov primer.