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Grammy Nomination 2005
BBC Music Magazine, CD of the month

The Ukrainian Valentin Silvestrov has established himself over the past three decades as a “composer of farewells”, of long slow elegies to Romanticism, to melody, to tonality gradually and ineluctably effaced by time … This aesthetic stance finds its perfect and tragic justification in the “Requiem” he composed in 1997-9 following the death of his wife, Larissa. The fervour of its melancholy lament is extraordinary … The awesome slow-motion keening is rendered more poignant by musical imagery of wind and storm, as of a shrouded uncaring landscape … Despite or because of its piercingly personal quality this work strikes me as one of the most affecting and momentous of modern Requiems. The Ukrainian forces project it with the kind of numbed, reverent dolour it demands.
Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine

Written after the unexpected death of his wife, the musicologist Larissa Bondarenko, Silvestrov’s Requiem portrays all the dark despair of loss illuminated by an almost redemptive light. … In the opening section words diappear into nothingness, musical phrases drift away – it’s like a meditation with reflective pauses. Eventually the anger and despair break through and this is the pattern throughout. In the fourth section the words of the requiem mass give way to a poem of farewell by Taras Shevenko, which is followed by the Agnus Dei where Mozart hovers in a most unusual manner. The work is given a stunning performance by all the performers, the richness of the men’s voices contrasting with those of the women’s. Although slow moving throughout, it is totally gripping.
Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir and Organ

At the heart of the Requiem is his Taras Shevchenko setting, “The Dream”, as breathtakingly moving here as in its original place in the cycle “Silent Songs”. Otherwise he fragments the Requiem text and disposes its incomplete phrases across seven mostly slow movements; only the “Lacrimosa” survives intact. The choir features a basso profundo section and three soloists who gently ease in and out of the texture. …
Initially I wondered if the music might not have benefited from an acoustic with rather more bloom on it. But Silvestrov’s scoring has its own built-in echo chambers, which are extraordinarily telling when he brings them into play, and the central movements are effectively distanced. nor is there any doubting the devotion of the performance – the composer’s compatriots do him proud. Paul Griffiths’s booklet-note shows how the poetic aspirations of ECM’s documentation can be taken on board without pretentiousness or wishful thinking. …
Whether or not you know the fragile, haunting sound world of Ukraine’s senior composer, this is a disc I urge you to try.
David Fanning, Gramophone

Understandably, requiems are among the most powerful pieces of music ever written. No exception here. Creatively mixing choir, symphony, and synthesized sounds and structures, Requiem for Larissa is as groundbreaking as it is moving. The crown jewel is the fourth movement’s bare vocals accompanied by a sparse harp. The ensuing pianissimo harmonies resonate with the listener’s central nervous system, creating a vehicle for experiencing, and looking through, profound loss.
David Lynch, The Austin Chronicle

Es handelt sich erwartungsgemäß nicht um eine Totenmesse im traditionell liturgischen Sinne. Der lateinische Text des Requiems erscheint nur in kurzen Bruchstücken, manchmal in Silben zerstückelt. In der Mitte des siebenteiligen Werkes steht ein ukrainisches Trauerlied des Dichter Taras Shevchenko. Ein von schwarzen Bässen grundierter Chor, ein „normales“ Orchester, dem Klavier und Synthesizer spezifische Farben geben, solistische Aufsplitterung der Chorstimmen – dies sind die Mittel, deren sich Silvestrov bedient, wobei die Harmonik zwischen rein tonalen Dreiklang-Kadenzen und atonalen Bildungen, letztere vor allem im Orchester, schwankt. Dass bei dieser scheinbaren Vielfalt dennoch am Ende der Eindruck eines beklemmend Geschlossenen entsteht, legitimiert das Verfahren. ...
Es ist schwer, sich der Faszinationskraft dieser unkonventionellen Requiem-Komposition zu entziehen, zumal die Wiedergabe des 2001 in Kiew eingespielten Werkes exemplarisch genannt werden muss. Der offenbar in der Tradition russischer Chorkunst stehende National Choir of Ukraine „Dumka“ mit seinen prachtvollen, dunkel timbrierten Stimmen und auch das Nationale Symphonieorchester der Ukraine unter Volodymyr Sirenko lassen Silvestrovs Gedenkwerk eine Darstellung angedeihen, die unter die Haut geht – bei aller Buntheit der Mittel.
Alfred Beaujean, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Rien de gai dans la messe des morts, mais que de chefs-d’œuvre écrits en son nom! De Mozart à Verdi ou, plus près de nous, Ligeti, le requiem a toujours inspiré les compositeurs. Achevé en 1999, celui de Valentin Silvestrov rend hommage à son épouse, la musicologue Larissa Bondarenko, brutalement disparue trois ans plus tôt. Vaste fresque pour chœur mixte et orchestre, Requiem for Larissa ne cesse de surprendre et d’émouvoir tout au long de ses 52 minutes. ...
Superbement chantées par le Chœur national d’Ukraine, les lignes de basse profonde rappellent les grands moments de la liturgie orthodoxe. Dans l’Agnus Dei, c’est l’ombre de Mozart et de la tradition classique viennoise qui affleure comme un rêve enchanté. A défaut de ressusciter l’être aimé, Requiem for Larissa s’insinue dans le labyrinthe des souvenirs pour en ramener quelque chose qui ressemble à une consolation.
Luca Sabbatini, Tribune de Genève

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