Valentin Silvestrov: Symphony No. 6

SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Andrey Boreyko

CD18,90 out of print

A defining orchestral work by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, one of the most individual voices from the former Soviet Union. His sixth symphony, written in 1994/95, a five-part work stretching over 55 minutes, offers an impressive synthesis of Silvestrov’s personal style which he himself has called “Metamusik”: music beyond music, sounds, often verging on silence, eavesdropping on long-lost reverberations.

Featured Artists Recorded

June 2005, Stadthalle Sindelfingen

Original Release Date


  • Symphony No. 6
    (Valentin Silvestrov)
  • 1I. Andantino - Vivace - Allegretto08:39
  • 2II. Allegro moderato - Commodo06:31
  • 3III. Andantino - Animato - Adagio - Moderato - Andante24:58
  • 4IV. Intermezzo. Larghetto05:26
  • 5V. Vivace con moto - Larghetto08:43
The playing is superb, capturing the most delicate hues and gentlest whispers of the score, and the immaculate recording provides the inky blackness from which the music emerges and into which, at the end, it decays. Like so much Silvestrov, you don’t have to know how or why it works to be deeply affected by it. It feels simple, yet it obviously isn’t; it’s profoundly beautiful, timeless, and unforgettable.
Andrew McGregor, BBC Online
There is something highly captivating about Silvestrov’s reinvention of musical progress that makes me think this symphony could gain something of a following, especially in such a well recorded and infinitely detailed performance as this.
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph
Mit der vor fünf Jahren uraufgeführten Sechsten unterstreicht Silvestrov erneut seinen Rang als bedeutendster lebender Symphoniker neben Rautavaara. Das fast einstündige Werk scheint sich zwischen zwei dumpf rollenden Rhythmusschlägen zu ereignen… Die Zeit, die uns leben lässt und sterben, ist hier getilgt. Obwohl mikroskopisch überaus exakt gearbeitet und von diffiziler Struktur, wirkt die Sechste auf den Hörer wie ein großer Gesang, wie ein Traum von Schönheit und Glück, der nicht zu widerlegen ist. Solch generöse Geschenke macht uns die moderne Musik nicht oft.
Volker Tarnow, Partituren
Mit seiner fast einstündigen sechsten Sinfonie, in der romantische Motive irrlichtern, Choräle aufbrausen, knüpft Silvestrov an die metasinfonische Idee seiner fünften Sinfonie an. Wie ein beständig kreisender Strudel aus Motiven, Gesten, Basslinien und grimmigen Blechbläsereinwürfen zieht dieser sinfonische Korpus in den Bann und erzeugt das bestürzend schöne Gefühl von Zeitlosigkeit und musikalischer Utopie. Musik ohne Botschaft, Musik als reine Poesie.
Sven Ahnert, Musik & Theater
This imposing work contains some of the most powerful, even tortured music Silvestrov has ever written –Gramophone, July 2003

The world premier recording of one of Valentin Silvestrov’s major symphonic achievements marks an important addition to the Ukrainian composer’s rapidly growing discography on ECM. Since 2001 the label has addressed his creative output in a number of releases that encompass a variety of genres. These include chamber works (“leggiero, pesante”, ECM 1776), choral music (“Requiem for Larissa”, ECM 1778), works for piano and orchestra (“Metamusik / Postludium”, ECM 1790) and the extraordinary song cycle (“Silent Songs”, ECM 1898/99). Now comes the almost hour-long Symphony No 6. Composed in 1994/95 and revised in 2000 it concludes the sequence of great orchestral works that Silvestrov wrote in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was in “Stille Lieder”, dating from the mid-70s, that the composer first employed his so-called “metaphorical style” in which echoes of long-lost sounds and poetic allusions are integrated with a highly developed sense of form. Symphony No. 6 is cast in five interrelated movements that all circle around the creation, transformation and final fragmentation of a melody. Silvestrov: “I try to compose by ear, to create the entire form as melody. The melodies should be viewed as something more than symbols or themes; they are more akin to a process than a result.” Tatjana Frumkis notes in the CD booklet that “throughout Silvestrov's symphony every line of the ‘subject’ can be retraced in all its ceaseless metamorphoses (...) The ‘labyrinth’ becomes more and more convoluted and tumultuous. Question and response, inhalation and exhalation: the living tissue of sounds, charged with deep dynamic force, sparkles and breathes as if bathed in sunlight or caressed by gusts of wind.”

In an interview with UK magazine Gramophone (July 2003) Silvestrov spoke of the work’s “atmosphere of imminent disaster”.. Although there is no explicit autobiographical element to the work the composer included a tribute to his wife Larissa in the concluding bars (in Russian solfeggio the notes A-D-C read “La-ri-ça”) which he was later to interpret as prescient. She was to die suddenly and unexpectedly, shortly after the completion of the first draft of the symphony, in August 1996 . In the following year Silvestrov poured his grief into the “Requiem for Larissa” convinced it would be his last composition. (It was not until 2003 that he was able to begin work on his seventh symphony.)