ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Valentin Silvetrov - Sacred Works


VALENTIN SILVESTROV - Sacred Works - Mykola Hobdych (Conductor) - Kiev Chamber Choir - ECM 4763316

A music at once ancient and futuristic, a music that comes from nothing and returns to nothing, a music that feeds on itself and in the process dies within itself, a music as ephemeral as the spirit that created it, a music as simple as a grain of sand and as complex as the universe. These are but some attempts at describing the music of Valentin Silvestrov, a Ukrainian composer born in 1937. A composer who turned his back on the avant-garde and devoted his life to the search for beauty in art. His symphonies certainly attest to that by reaching moments of profound beauty through Silvestrov's unique harmonic manipulations.

The sacred a cappella choral works featured on this CD again display this unique and mysterious harmonic progression in which the music travels, constantly shifting ever so slightly and at times almost suspended in time, until it eventually resolves itself and returns to its point of origin. There is a sense of ancient Byzantine Christianity pervading the Liturgical Chants and Psalms found here, a mystical travel back in time, but also a sense of spiritual barrenness so typical of today. Within this contradiction lies the hidden beauty of the music. It doesn't try to impose new values or ideas on us, but rather quietly and simply exists through us. Silvestrov's music is like smoke caught by a ray of sunshine in a dark room. It floats effortlessly upwards, constantly curling upon itself and going through many tranfigurations until it just becomes nothing again.

The Kiev Chamber Choir are simply unsurpassed in music like this and in this recording their tonal qualities are magnified by the deep and clear reverberation from the Cathedral of the Ascension in the High Monastery of Kiev. The combination of spatial infinity and harmonic overtones create a sound that is not of this world.

Jean-Yves Duperron