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Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Songs

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Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Songs (2006)

by Alexei Lubimov (piano), Alexei Martynov (vocals)

About this title: Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (born 1937) has led an excruciatingly unfortunate professional life, but he has managed to persevere and remain productive. The Soviet establishment assailed his work as corrupted by Western formalism, and just as he was beginning to be acknowledged in the West as a courageous and forward-looking voice of the avant-garde, his work underwent a seismic shift toward simplicity, which alienated his Western defenders. His new aesthetic is most radically embodied in Silent Songs (1973-1977), a cycle of 24 songs for piano and lyric soprano or light baritone that lasts nearly two hours, and which the composer stipulates must be performed without a break, as a single extended song. To further distance himself from the likelihood of performance, much less critical or popular acceptance, all the songs are slow and very, very quiet. What's remarkable about this recording is that it's not the only one that this work has received, so the listener actually has a choice of...

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