Saturday, February 3, 2018

Sofia Gubaidulina, Part 10

As I was only barely aware of Gubaidulina prior to starting on this project, what I am doing first is just taking a journey through her life and listening to pieces along the way in chronological order. When this is done, I will do some more analytical posts on the music. We are in the later 70s. One large project she was engaged in was a large collaborative oratorio with two other composers, Paul-Heinz Dittrich of East Germany and Marek Kopelent of Czechoslovakia. The piece, on a text by Czech humanist Amon Comenius, was titled Laudatio Pacis. Unfortunately the authorities managed to prevent its performance and it wasn't premiered until after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1993.

At around the same time, Gubaidulina was working on a very different kind of piece, her Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings. She has long had a fascination with low-register instruments. The inspiration for this work came from the virtuoso bassoonist Valery Popov of the State Symphony Orchestra. As became her standard practice, once Popov asked her for a piece, she began to study not only his instrument but he himself and his approach to the instrument. She wrote:
I had never heard a bassoon with such a voice and was literally bewitched by the musician's artistry. I attended all his concerts and class lessons at the Moscow Conservatory, where he taught. Gradually I began to penetrate into the essence of the instrument itself, to understand it like some character in a play. It was then that the idea came to me to surround the "personality" of the bassoon with low-register strings--double basses and cellos. The interactions between the soloist and the surrounding instruments are complex, contradictory, as in a dramatic scene full of action. The concerto includes moments of reconciliation and hostility, tragedy and loneliness. [Quoted in Kurtz, op. cit., p. 116]
The piece, despite a flurry of objections from Serafim Tulikov, president of the Moscow Composers Union, and Evgeny Makarov, head of the Artistic Council, was premiered in May 1975 in the Hall of the Composers Union. Here is a performance:

As of this writing, the clip has had only 43 views on YouTube! Also, the performance is curtailed and the other clips I see on YouTube are of single movements. Here is one of the last movement, but I am not sure of how it fits with the clip above:

No comments: