Sofia Gubaidulina: Canticle of the Sun

Gidon Kremer, Nicolas Altstaedt

CD18,90 out of print
EN / DE

Sofia Gubaidulina’s 80th birthday in October 2011 generated much press coverage around the world, appropriately stressing the uniqueness and the variety of her compositional approaches. Both are in evidence on these recordings from Lockenhaus. Gidon Kremer is the soloist and Kremerata Baltica the ensemble on the premiere recording of “The Lyre of Orpheus”, dedicated to the memory of Gubaidulina’s daughter. Kremer has long been a committed advocate of Gubaidulina’s work, and the composer has praised the way the violinist seems to unleash music from the soul. In this work of austere beauty and raw lyricism, violin, string orchestra and percussion intermingle in new ways. At a subterranean level, the piece is also an exploration into acoustic phenomena and the physics of sound, with pulsating difference tones part of its underlying structures. “The Lyre of Orpheus” was recorded in 2006, a month after Kremer gave the first performance. “Canticle of the Sun”, recorded in 2010, revisits the celebrated piece that Gubaiduilina wrote in tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 1997. Rostropovich’s famously sunny disposition was an inspiration, by association prompting Gubaidulina to set St Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun” for choir. In this recording, Nicolas Altstaedt, one of the most accomplished cellists of his generation, takes on the highly expressive lead role. A further, timely, Lockenhaus connection here: as of this year, Altsteadt takes over from Kremer as the new director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival.

Die Geschichte der Musik kennt viele Freundschaften zwischen Interpreten und Komponisten, die eine ganze Literatur hervorgebracht haben. Auch die Beziehung zwischen dem Geiger Gidon Kremer und der Komponistin Sofia Gubaidulina, die bis in die siebziger Jahre des vorigen Jahrhunderts zurückreicht, gehört zu diesen kreativen Begegnungen. Als die Komponistin noch in der Sowjetunion ihrem Beruf als freischaffende Künstlerin nachging, den es im sozialistischen System eigentlich gar nicht geben durfte, hat Gidon Kremer sich schon unermüdlich im Konzertsaal für die vielfach religiös konnotierten Werke eingesetzt und Sofia Gubaidulina mit dem 1981 uraufgeführten Violinkonzert „Offertorium“ weltweite Resonanz verschafft. Seit 1992 lebt die Künstlerin in Deutschland und gehört mittlerweile zu den herausragenden, vielfach ausgezeichneten Tonschöpfern der ehemaligen Sowjetunion, deren Werke mit neuen Kompositionsmitteln die reiche kulturelle Überlieferung beleben. Auch mit ihrem „Canticle of the Sun“, einer Vertonung der „Laudes Creaturarum“ des Franz von Assisi stellt sich Sofia Gubaidulina in eine musikalische Tradition, die mit Franz Liszt begann und mit William Waltons Vertonung „Cantico del sole“ aus dem Jahre 1974 nicht zu Ende gegangen ist. Ergänzt wird dieses Mstislaw Rostropowitsch gewidmete Chorwerk mit solistischem Cello durch die Ersteinspielung von „Die Leier des Orpheus“, dem ersten Teil des Triptychons „Nadejka“, den Sofia Gubaidulina für ihre 2004 verstorbene Tochter Nadeschda geschrieben und Gidon Kremer gewidmet hat.
Featured Artists Recorded

July 2006 & July 2010, Lockenhaus

Original Release Date

27.01.2012

  • 1The Lyre of Orpheus (2006)
    (Sofia Gubaidulina)
    23:40
  • The Canticle of the Sun
    (St. Francis of Assisi, Sofia Gubaidulina)
  • 2Glorification of the Creator, and His Creations - the Sun and the Moon10:12
  • 3Glorification of the Creator, the Maker of the four elements: air, water, fire and earth13:19
  • 4Glorification of life14:29
  • 5Glorification of death07:23
Sofia Gubaidulinas Komponieren besitzt etwas, was vielen jüngeren Komponisten heute zu fehlen scheint: Es öffnet im Klang, in der Expression, in der Stärke des Gefühls das, was man eine “Utopie” nennen möchte. Diese greift weit über die gesetzten Noten hinaus, teilt auch uns als Zuhörern viel von unserem eigenen Leben mit. Nur so entsteht große Musik, große Kunst.
Gerhard Rohde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
 
Featuring unorthodox showcases for violin and cello, this album is testament to the sensitive individualism of Sofia Gubaidulina. Performed by Gidon Kremer´s Kremerata Baltica, "The Lyre of Orpheus" proceeds via a series of discrete violin flourishes and glissandi, until coaxed into the open under cover of the ensemble. Its inclusion of sleighbells is one example of Gubaidulina´s characteristic use of unusual percussion, which reaches further extremes in her setting of St Francis´s "Canticle of the Sun" when cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, having detuned his instrument to its lowest possible note, eventually abandons it to bow first a drum, then a flexatone device. Strange, but beautiful.
Andy Gill, The Independent
Two major works by Sofia Gubaidulina comprise this album: The Lyre of Orpheus (composed in 2006), for violin, percussion and string orchestra, and The Canticle of the Sun (1997, rev. 1998), for violoncello, chamber choir, percussion and celesta. Both pieces were recorded at the Lockenhaus Festival in, respectively, 2006 and 2010.

Gidon Kremer is the soloist and Kremerata Baltica the ensemble on the premiere recording of The Lyre of Orpheus. Kremer has long been a committed advocate of Gubaidulina’s work, and the composer has praised the way the violinist seems to unleash music from the soul, playing with “great inner plasticity”. Gubaidulina’s interpreters must penetrate the rarefied atmospheres of her works, and bring their own creativity into play, to “complete” the music, as she says. “What a richness in sounds and silence!” exclaims Kremer of The Lyre of Orpheus. “What inventiveness in the approach to the invisible! Everyone should be obliged to find keys to enter the mystical kingdom created by Sofia Gubaidulina as a sensitive reflection of higher powers. The rewards follow imminently and stay forever.” In this work of austere beauty and raw lyricism, violin, string orchestra and percussion intermingle in new ways.

At a subterranean level, The Lyre of Orpheus is also an exploration into the physics of sound, with pulsating difference tones informing its underlying structures. Gubaidulina explains: “One can conceive of an imaginary pulsating space where the pulsation of the difference tones corresponds to the sounding intervals. Projected onto the tonal area which we can perceive, a specific correlation is formed between this pulsation and the sounding interval which produces the difference tone. One can experience this correspondence in an artistic work as a metaphor for a profound correlation between processes taking place in time and processes within the sound world, but also as a pronounced factor of formal organization.”

The Lyre of Orpheus was commissioned by the Basel Festival ‘Les Muséiques’ and received its premiere on 6 June 2006, performed by Gidon Kremer, Andrei Pushkarev, Peter Sadlo and the Kremerata Baltica in Basel. The present recording followed a month later.

Canticle of the Sun revisits the celebrated piece that Gubaidulina wrote in tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 1997. Rostropovich’s famously sunny disposition was an inspiration, by association prompting Gubaidulina to set St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun for choir. In this recording, Nicolas Altstaedt takes on the highly expressive lead role. Gubaidulina: “Nicolas possesses a brilliant technique, beautiful sound, outstanding feeling of form, excellent phrasing. His play was masterly. Without exaggeration one can say that we are dealing with a highly gifted musician, with a unique personality.” A further, timely, Lockenhaus connection: as of this year, Nicolas Altstaedt takes over from Gidon Kremer as the new director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival.
Nicolas Altstaedt, who makes his ECM debut here, was born in Heidelberg in 1982. He was one of Boris Pergamenschikow’s last students in Berlin, where he is continuing his studies with Eberhard Feltz. He counts Mstislav Rostropovich, Tabea Zimmermann, Heinrich Schiff, Miklós Perényi, Steven Isserlis and Anner Bylsma amongst his influences. Altstaedt has already won many international awards including recently the Kulturstiftung Dortmund prize, and the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award 2010. He is a BBC New Generation Artist 2010-2012, a member of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, and received a Borletti Buitoni Fellowship in 2009.
Gidon Kremer, born in Riga in 1947, has established a world-wide reputation as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation. After winning several major violin competitions he moved to the West in 1980. His association with ECM began with Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, which launched the ECM New Series in 1984. In 1997, he founded the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra to foster outstanding young musicians from the three Baltic States. Since then, he has toured the world's festivals and concert halls with the orchestra.
The Riga youth choir Kamēr… was founded in 1990 by conductor Māris Sirmais (born 1969), who continues to lead the choir today.

Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic of the Soviet Union in 1931. She studied piano and composition at the Kazan Conservatory, and continued at the Moscow Conservatory. Her beliefs in the religious power of music and commitment to her own artistic vision did not endear her to the Soviet musical establishment, but she received early encouragement from Dmitry Shostakovich and her music was championed in Russia by a number of devoted performers. The determined advocacy of Gidon Kremer helped bring the composer to international attention in the early 1980s. Gubaidulina is the author of symphonic and choral works, two cello concerti, a viola concerto, four string quartets, a string trio, works for percussion ensemble, and many works for nonstandard instruments and distinctive combinations of instruments. Her scores frequently explore unconventional techniques of sound production. One of the most widely-respected of living composers her 80th birthday in 2011 was celebrated in newspapers around the world and in an ongoing series of international concerts and special events.