The eleventh entry in Divine Art’s Vyacheslav Artymov series presents an assortment of chamber music. The recordings were made between 1970 and 1981, but many are receiving their first commercial release with Album XI.
I’ve often described Artyomov as a crafter of sound clouds. Some of the early works here that aesthetic. The Hymn of Sudden Wafts. for example, features two saxophones (soprano and tenor) and two keyboards (harpsichord and piano). The saxes represent the wafts, through breath and intonation, while the keyboards provide context for the swirling sounds.
Artyomov’s Sonata for Solo Clarinet was written when he was 23. This early work features jagged leaps with chromatic turns. A piece of its time perhaps, save for the importance of breath. How the clarinetist breathes and supports the tones provide the music’s expressive power.
And the wind is important in Litanies I and II, written for a quartet of saxophones and flutes respectively. In both, individual instruments temporarily come to the fore, only to be engulfed back into the swirling could of the ensemble.
The other works also reward attentive listening (and repeat listening). Most important (I think) are the Four Armenian Duets. Artyomov set poems by Armenian poet Ashot Bagdasarovich. The work shows his love and appreciation for the country where he composed so many of his major works.
The Duets are dedicated to soprano Ruzanna Lisitsian and mezzo-soprano Karina Lisitsian who sings them here. They’re accompanied by the composer at the piano. I’m not sure any other combination of musicians could get to the core of this music.
I would not use this album to introduce someone to Artyomov. But for those who do know and love his work, this is a must-have release.
Vyacheslav Artyomov: Album XI
Hymn of Sudden Wafts – Igor Abramov, soprano and tenor saxophones; Alexei Semionov, harpsichord; Yuri Smirnov, piano
Sonata – Oleg Tantsov, clarinet
Litany I Lev Mikhailov, soprano saxophone; Alexander Oseichuk, alto saxophone; Alexei Nbotov, tenor saxophone; Vladimir Yeriomin, baritone saxophone
Litany II – Vladimir Pakulichev, Alexander Timochin, and Albert Govman, flutes; Sergi Kokhlov, alto flute
Sunday Sonata – Valery Popov, bassoon; Piotr Meschaninov, piano
Four Armenian Duets – Ruzanna Lisitsian, soprano; Karina Lisitsian, mezzo-soprano; Vyacheslav Artyomov, piano
Capriccio on the ’75 New Year Eve – Lev Mikhailov, soprano saxophone; Vladimir Yeriomin, baritone saxophone; Illa Spivak, percussion