About this Recording
8.572772 - GUBAIDULINA, S.: Fachwerk / Silenzio (Draugsvoll, Loguin, Lotsberg, Trondheim Symphony, Gimse)

Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Fachwerk • Silenzio


Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic on 24 October 1931. She studied the piano with Grigory Kogan and composition, and graduated from the Kazan Conservatory in 1954. Until 1959 she studied composition at the Moscow Conservatory with Nikolai Peiko, Shostakovich’s assistant, and then did postgraduate work under Vissarion Shebalin. She has been active as a composer since 1963. In 1975, together with Viktor Suslin and Vyacheslav Artyomov, she founded the ‘Astreya’ Ensemble, which specialised in improvising on rare Russian, Caucasian, Central Asian and East Asian folk and ritual instruments. These hitherto unknown sounds and timbres and ways of experiencing musical time had a profound influence on her creative work. Since the early 1980s, and especially as a result of the support and encouragement given to her by Gidon Kremer, her works have been performed widely in western countries. With Schnittke, Denisov and Silvestrov, she is now seen to be one of the leading representatives of the New Music in the former Soviet Union. This is reflected in numerous commissions from the BBC, the Berlin Festival, the Library of Congress, NHK, the New York Philharmonic and other institutions, and in the availability of a large number of recordings. Sofia Gubaidulina is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, of the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg, of the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm and of the German order “Pour le mérite”. In 1992 Gubaidulina moved to Germany, and now lives near Hamburg.

Sofia Gubaidulina has received numerous awards and prizes. These include the Rome International Composer’s Competition (1974), the Prix de Monaco (1987), the Koussevitzky International Record Award (1989 and 1994) for the recording of her violin concerto ‘Offertorium’ (DG 47336-2), and her symphony ‘Stimmen…verstummen…’ (Chandos 9183), the Premio Franco Abbiato (1991), the Heidelberger Künstlerinnenpreis (1991) and the Russian State Prize (1992). Her recent awards include the Ludwig Spohr Prize of the City of Brunswick (1995), the Japanese Praemium Imperiale (Tokyo, 1998), the Prize of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation in Copenhagen (1999), the Stockholm Concert Hall Foundation’s Honorary Medal in Gold (2000), the Goethe Medal of the City of Weimar (2001), the Polar Music Prize (2002), the Great Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2002) as well as the Living Composer Prize in the Cannes Classical Awards 2003.

Although Sofia Gubaidulina’s education and background are Russian, it is important to bear in mind the significance of her Tatar origins. She is not, however, a Romantic nationalist. Her compositional mastery enables her to make use of contemporary techniques evolved by the European and American avant-garde, though in a wholly individual manner. Furthermore, oriental philosophies have had an influence on certain aspects of her music. A striking feature of Gubaidulina’s work is the almost total absence of ‘absolute’ music. The vast majority of her pieces have an extra-musical dimension, e.g. a poem, either set to music or hidden between the lines, a ritual, or some kind of instrumental ‘action’. Some of her compositions demonstrate her preoccupation with mystical ideas and Christian symbolism. She has wide-ranging literary interests, and has set to music poems by ancient Egyptian and Persian writers and contemporary lyric poetry by Marina Tsvetayeva, for whom she feels a deep spiritual affinity.

“To my mind the ideal relationship to tradition and to new compositional techniques is the one in which the artist has mastered both the old and the new, though in a way which makes it seem that he is taking note of neither the one nor the other. There are composers who construct their works very consciously; I am one of those who ‘cultivate’ them. And for this reason everything I have assimilated forms as it were the roots of a tree, and the work its branches and leaves. One can indeed describe them as being new, but they are leaves nonetheless, and seen in this way they are always traditional and old. Dmitry Shostakovich and Anton Webern have had the greatest influence on my work. Although my music bears no apparent traces of it, these two composers taught me the most important lesson of all: to be myself.” (Sofia Gubaidulina)

Fachwerk (Timber Framing)
for Bayan, Percussion and String Orchestra (dedicated to Geir Draugsvoll)

“The title of this work can be traced back to my enthusiasm for the architectural style of timber framing. This is a highly specialised, unique style in which the constructive elements of a building are not hidden behind the building façade, but, on the contrary, are shown openly. The constructive elements which are indispensable for such a building, such as wall struts, window and door latches and beam ceilings, form different kinds of geometrical patterns which become an aesthetic phenomenon. And at times, a still more profound phenomenon shines through from behind this beauty, an essential, intrinsic phenomenon. Thus one distinguishes, for example, between the strut types “Swabian man, “Swabian woman,” “wild man” and “standing St Andrew’s cross.”

“I imagined that one could also show something in music reminiscent of this style, i.e. compose in such a way that the construction of a certain instrument would become visible and transformed into something of an aesthetic nature.

“A musical instrument does in fact exist which makes it possible to realise this idea. It is the bayan, on which one can switch the keyboard from the melodic mode to the chordal mode.

“In one and the same row of buttons, one has the dynamics of a melodic line above or below and, at the same time, the stasis of chord sounds in the middle of the sound area at one’s disposal.

“In this structure, in principle, there is a dominant (the melodic line above), a subdominant (the melodic line below) and a tonic (chords in the centre of the system)—three aspects that determine the essence of order in the universe.

“In my composition for bayan, percussion and strings, I have tried to show this characteristic of the instrument in the cadencing moments of a variation form. In one of the most important sections, however, the succession of chords of the keyboard played in the chordal mode sounds simultaneously with its melodic variant. And here, I could say without exaggeration that this section was composed by the instrument itself.”

for Bayan, Violin and Cello

Silenzio, a set of five pieces for bayan, violin and cello, (dedicated to Elsbeth Moser), dates from 1991. “The greater part of the work”, the composer explains, “is to be played pianissimo.

“It was not my aim just to express silence or to create such an impression. For me silence is the foundation from which something grows. Exact rhythmic proportions are made which appear differently in all five miniatures, at times concealed, at times in the form of proportions of note length. In the last miniature the hidden and open are brought together in a synthesis. In the course of the whole movement we hear significantly formulated rhythmic sequences in the bayan part (quasi variations on a rhythm). It is the same rhythm that can also be heard in the relationship to each other of the formal sections, 7- 2- 5.”

Notes supplied by Sikorski Music Publishers

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