, January 2007
Much of this program falls into the category of light classical, or pops music. Alla Pavlova, Moscow born and trained, now a resident of New York City, writes well-constructed material that is drenched in nostalgia, and yet each work on this program has a distinct profile. Monolog is an homage to the composer’s music-loving father, an amateur violinist. It is sweet and short, in just the right proportions; the brevity of the piece keeps the sentimentality of the music from welling over into sappiness. Old New York Nostalgia is also, at first blush, too simple and relentlessly tonal to have any lasting impact, and yet there is an integrity and good old-fashioned craft at the core of this writing that draws the listener in, and even encourages repeat hearings. Her memories tend to be sweet with little bitterness; even the “Lullaby for the Twins,” a 9/11 tribute, oddly skirts any intense emotions.
The centerpiece of the program is Sulamith, a ballet suite based on the Russian writer Alexandre Krupin’s tale of a love affair between King Solomon and one of his servants, the eponymous young waif. The oriental flavor of the music brings to mind Rimsky and Scheherazade, less the soaring sumptuousness. That’s the rub; Pavlova, in all of the music on this CD, seems determined to keep her emotional burners on low, even as she flirts with coy melodrama. Her symphonies, which have also been recorded by Naxos, may tell a different story. Certainly, her voice is intriguing enough to merit an audition.
Rossen Milanov is a young conductor of Bulgarian origin and seems to be one of the more promising talents of his generation. He has become highly admired in Philadelphia, as the associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he has consistently displayed a sensitive ear for color and dramatic shape, which are appropriate attributes in this music. The Moscow ensemble is gently sonorous, warmly sympathetic to the music