Gewandhausorchester Leipzig: Sofia Gubaidulina – an admirable birthday homage

“Whenever I compose, I pray,” says Sofia Gubaidulina, “no, I actually speak to God.” As one of the most important composers in Russia and about to turn 90, Gubaidulina has earned the right to be like in to express their music in the highest tones.

Her birthday falls this week on October 24th and an extensive program of events that looks back on her extensive work is already underway, including concerts in her native Russia and a season focus of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

One of their most ardent proponents in recent years has been the orchestra’s chief conductor, Andris Nelsons. On this CD he and his Leipzig players play three late scores, all of which are imbued with that deep spirituality that distinguished Gubaidulina as an individual voice when her music emerged in the West after the fall of communism.

Of these three works is the violin concerto Dialogue: me and you, played by its original soloist Vadim Repin and recorded live in 2019, is daringly empty and thoughtful. The lonely violinist ponders the occasional outburst of thundering drums, interjections from the brass section or the ringing of bells, as if he were watching the orchestra disintegrate into its constituent parts.

The other two – Gods wrath (2019) and The light of the end (2003) – are immediately more convincing. These are urgent and highly dramatized orchestral scores that travel through conflict and doubt in their search for Gubaidulina’s lifelong goal of spiritual fulfillment. High quality performances and recordings result in an admirable birthday homage.

★★★★ ☆

Sofia Gubaidulina‘is used by DG. published

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