Vyacheslav Artyomov’s Star Wind

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In a recent review of a CD of Vyacheslav Artyomov’s music this past November I wrote: “… (his) music is mystical, Russian at the core… a master of orchestral writing and of unusual instrumentation… his melodies have their roots in old Slavonic chant…”

As I listened to the CD (dda25176) Star Wind, a compilation of Artyomov’s music just released by Divine Art Recordings Group (www.divineartsrecords.com) I was once again intrigued by the versatility of the Russian composer’s genre-defying music.

Artyomov’s music is widely performed in Europe and inexplicably by and large ignored in America. I hope against hope this Russian artist’s long overdue recognition happens soon in these parts. By no means derivative, the music of this Russian master is all encompassing in the way in which it embraces Serial techniques here, Romanticism there, often finding inspiration in folklores of foreign lands, yet severely disciplined and anchored in a rigorously Russian Classicism.

Star Wind is both the title of Artyomov’s CD and that of the work that occupies its first track: a tone poem for violin, cello, flute, French horn, piano and glockenspiel. Tonally ambiguous but never harsh in its use of dissonances and sudden outbursts of tone clusters the composition is strikingly original.

Not surprisingly, the chameleonic Artyomov next moves into a dodecaphonic construct in Variations: Nestling Antsali for flute and piano, a set of variations that playfully imitate the fidgeting behavior of the young of a small bird species from the isle of Madagascar.

Moonlight Dreams is a hauntingly evocative cantata for soprano and a chamber ensemble made up of alto flute, cello and piano, with texts culled from the words of four seventh century Chinese poems: In Bamboo Solitude, Autumn Moon, Village at the River, and Quietly Peaceful Night Thoughts in an English translation by David Cheetham of the poetry of Wan Wan, Li Po and Ssü K’ung Shu. Nelly Lee is the pure-voiced soprano soloist.

Romantic Capriccio for French horn, piano and String Quartet is, as its title implies a bold work that embraces a more tonally and melodically traditional sound than the other works in this CD.

Mattinate is actually the title of two charmingly Italianate vocalizes for soprano, with violin, guitar and flute accompaniment, here beautifully sung by soprano Iana Besiadinkaya.

Artyomov wrote for film and for dance, but upon his leaving the Soviet Union, The Moscow Fantasy, the movie ballet for which he composed a score was banned by Soviet cultural apparatchiks. Fortunately the jazzy, sassy, at times rhapsodic, at others sardonic music is extant and is here given a vibrantly rousing performance of seven of its scenes by a top-notch ensemble: Mikhail Tsinman, violin; Igor Abramov, clarinet; Nikolai Gorbunov, bass; Anatoly Sheludiakov, piano; Aleksander Suverov and Valerly Polivanov, percussionists, with Murad Annamamedov conducting.

As usual with anything divine art issues, STAR WIND (dda25176) is nicely packaged and provided with Robert Matthew Walker’s excellent commentary. The engineering by various teams (this being a compilation of earlier recordings) is uniformly good.

Rafael de Acha                      http://www.Rafael’sMusicNotes.com

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