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Galina Ustvolskaya : Suites & Poèmes. Mravinsky, Jansons.
Diapason from February 2020
Review de Patrick Szersnovicz
Page No. 109
Format : 2 CD
Total Time : 01:20:41

Recording : 1954-2016

Label : Brilliant
Catalog No. : BRIL96084
EAN : 5028421960845
Price Code : DM011A

Publishing Year : 2019
Release Date : 27/11/2019

Genre : Classical
Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006)
Young Pioneers' Suite
A Trumpet Calls!
In the Forest, A Fairy Tale
At Leisure
A Game
A Celebration
A trumpet Calls! (Finale)
Children's Suite
Morning
Cheerful walk
Ballerina Doll
Bears' Dance
Touch-last
In the glade
Battle
Dance and a cry-baby
Evening
Sport's Suite
Poèmes
Lights in the Steppe, Poème n° 1
Hero's Exploit, Poème n° 2
Poem on Peace, Song of Praise

Mikhail Turpanov, piano
Ensemble-in-residence at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory "The Studio for New Music"
Vladislav Lavrik, direction
Moscow Boys Choir
Bogdan Petrenko, direction
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Arvids Jansons, direction
Yevgeny Mravinsky, direction
Youth Symphony Orchestra
Igor Borisoglebsky, direction

C’est une facette moins connue de Galina Ustvolskaya que présente ce double disque qui collecte six pièces écrites dans les années 50 et début 60, après que la Pétersbourgeoise, à l’instar d’autres compositeurs (dont Chostakovitch et Prokofiev), ait été accusée de formalisme petit-bourgeois par le Parti communiste : « voie erronée et destructrice, goûts pervertis d’esthètes individualistes, restes d’idéologie bourgeoise » sont quelques-uns des reproches listés dans la résolution du Comité Central parue dans la Pravda du 11 février 1948. Ustvolskaya s’attelle alors à la réécrire « pour le peuple », dans le style réaliste soviétique, suivant la voie exigée par le Parti d’une « élévation du travail créatif qui fera rapidement avancer la culture musicale soviétique » - des œuvres alimentaires, jouées une ou deux fois et vite bannies de son catalogue, voire détruites, par la compositrice, qui avait ses vues personnelles sur l’héroïsme en musique. Si, après la mort de Staline, elle atteint une meilleure reconnaissance publique avec ses Suites & Poèmes, toujours marqués par le sceau soviétique, on reste loin des dissonances nettes et dures qui caractérisaient son esthétique et faisaient son originalité. (Bernard Vincken)

As well as being among the most gifted of Shostakovich’s pupils, Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) is best known for composing music that unflinchingly confronts the big questions - death, God, loneliness – in an output of mostly instrumental pieces. Her language is spare, austere yet sized to contain the momentousness of her subjects. It will therefore come as a surprise to many listeners that Ustvolskaya was no less capable than many of her Soviet-era contemporaries of turning her hand to much lighter and more functional music when it was required. In 1953 she produced a Young Pioneers’ Suite – opened and closed by a joyous trumpet fanfare – and two years later a Childrens’ Suite of pieces barely longer than a couple of minutes, encapsulating a game of tag, a toy ballerina, a walk in the woods. Two years after that, in 1959, Ustvolskaya produced the Sports’ Suite, perhaps emulating the example of Satie with a series of witty miniatures. These suites were all scored for orchestra and recorded for the state record label, Melodiya by the Leningrad Philharmonic under its two legendary chief conductors, Yevgeny Mravinsky and Arvids Jansons (father of Mariss). They receive their first digital transfers and release in Europe with this new Brilliant Classics album, which will be an essential acquisition for students of Soviet contemporary music. Several recordings have never appeared in any format before such as the Poem on Peace from 1961 – not to be confused with her later, numbered instrumental Poems. This was first performed at a prestigious concert including new music from Europe and the US, and numbering among its audience a delegation of American composers including Samuel Barber, who remarked after hearing Ustvolskaya’s Poem: ‘If that is peace, I prefer war.’ The piece was not performed again and her career as an ‘official’ composer producing music to order was over. Perhaps this is just as well for posterity, but the chance to hear her early voice should not be missed.

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