Monday, January 8, 2018

Sofia Gubaidulina, Part 3

Sofia Gubaidulina in 1955, student at the Moscow Conservatory
Just a very brief post today. Due to the intervention of Shostakovich, chairman of the examination committee, and the support of her composition teacher Nikolai Peiko, Gubaidulina received the highest possible mark on her final exam at the Moscow Conservatory and was granted a three-year postgraduate degree candidacy with financial support. She also had a baby with her husband Mark Liando, whom she had met in 1953. They divorced in 1964, still friends, but on different paths.

The earliest piece which Gubaidulina includes on her list of compositions is the Chaconne for piano, written in 1962. I think it is worth listening to and luckily, we have a clip with the score:

Without doing any analysis (perhaps I will delve into it at a later date) the obvious stylistic affinities are to Bach and Shostakovich (who loved to use passacaglia form in some movements). In places there is a powerful rhythmic energy. Harmonically the dissonance of the opening chords is not continued throughout, but alternates with a more crystalline transparency. I think what gives the music interest and strength is the fact that the textures are in such flux. There is a lot of variety in the piece. Gubaidulina is a very intuitive composer who avoids an excessively cerebral approach and I think this piece demonstrates that.


Will Wilkin said...

To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece! You said "without doing any analysis" and then you gave a fine brief analysis, all very true to what I heard. I agree especially with your closing sentence that "Gubaidulina is a very intuitive composer who avoids an excessively cerebral approach and I think this piece demonstrates that." I get a strong feeling there is life in this piece, it does not flow from calculation but rather something more combining impulse and emotion.

I have hardly ever used youtube until in this past year just a little more as a way to get at classical music I don't have on CD, and now in the past month more than ever. Tonight I really enjoyed following the score as I heard the music, a pretty new experience for me. There were times when I averted my eyes in order to focus all attention on sound, but since in my own early stages of studying violin I am most challenged with reading the rhythms and timing, I very much appreciated seeing how the timing of chords and melody were notated.

Also your matching a few pieces (such as that early --1956?-- lyrical song you linked a few days ago) now with concise summaries of those phases of her life gives me a sympathy and interest in the mind and heart of the artist producing such intriguing works. Recall it was only a week or so ago I said I only knew a few of her works and didn't like any of them and was not interested in exploring her work any further. Oh how that has changed!

Bryan Townsend said...

Will, your experience with this music underlines that taking a bit of time to learn some context and look at a score or two almost always results in a lot more understanding and appreciation. Of course, you have to have an open mind as you obviously do!