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Sofia Gubaidulina
The Deceitful Face of Hope and Despair & Seven Words

Concerto for flute and large orchestra (Dedicated to Sharon Bezaly)

Seven Words (Sieben Worte) for cello, bayan (accordion) and strings
I. Vater, vergib ihnen, denn sie wissen nicht, was sie tun
II. Weib, siehe, das ist dein Sohn. - Siehe, das ist deine Mutter
III. Wahrlich, ich sage dir: Heute wirst du mit mir im Paradiese sein
IV. Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?
V. Mich dürstet
VI. Es ist vollbracht
VII. Vater, ich befehle meinen Geist in deine Hände

Sharon Bezaly, flute
Torleif Thedéen, cello
Mie Miki, accordion
Göteborgs Symfoniker/Mario Venzago, conductor

BIS SACD 1449 [2004/2005; 61 mins]

The BIS recording company takes on selected contemporary composers and does them proud. This is a distinguished addition to the discography of Sofia Gubaidulina, whose music, with its concern for spirituality and Christian symbolism, reflects her origins in the Tatar Republic.

Often attracted by the bayan (concert button accordion) she has two major works regularly played on that instrument. The Cross made a huge impression at Huddersfield Festival and later in Lucerne with organ. There are several literal images in sound of 'crossing', metaphors from the thematic basis of the work, the technicalities of which Gubaidulina explains in her note.

The flute concerto ('...The Deceitful Face of Hope and of Despair', after T.S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday) recorded in association with the composer requires three different instruments (flute, alto flute and bass flute) with an extended orchestra which covers a very wide range of colours and pitches, from dark trombones and percussion to shimmering wind chimes and explores 'difference tones'. No frivolity in either of these serious and religious permeated works, but compelling listening from a composer who knows exactly what she wants to say and conveys it with assurance, with head and heart in perfect balance.

Performances, recording balance and presentation beyond criticism.

I would recommend also Julius Berger's stunning Gubaidulina CD (cello and accordion - deputising for organ and shõ) of religious-inspired works (Seven Words & The Cross) with accordionist Stefan Hussong.

© Peter Grahame Woolf