Vyacheslav Artyomov has developed his own musical language. It isn’t so much about scales and chords as it is timbres and sound clouds. In other words, the perfect aesthetic for percussion ensembles.
This release features two works commissioned by the Mark Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble, performed by that ensemble. The earliest work, Totem is a marvelous study in instrumental potential.
The work begins with swirling clouds of sound that coalesces into a rhythmic section before dissolving into another ethereal cloud. Arytomov uses 69 instruments, creating interesting combinations of wood, metal, leather.
In A Sonata of Meditiations (1978) Artyomov adds another dimension to his mix of tonal and indefinite pitch percussion. Each of the four movements — or meditations — add a player. So the first movement has one performer, the second, two and so on.
What I admired was how diverse the collection of sounds Artyomov uses even with just a single player.
A Garland of Recitations is a study in contrasts. Composed in conjunction with Meditations, it uses four performers in an entirely different fashion. Strings provide a continual, slowly evolving sound cloud. Four wind instruments — oboe, clarinet, saxophone, flute — each perform individually over this swirling sound.
Atryomov pushes the wind instruments to their limits — and it pays off. The stark contrast between the energy and intensity of the soloists with the self-effacing string sound creates a work of exceptional beauty.
These recordings were originally issued on Melodyia in the early 1990s. There’s a slight softness to the sound, but overall I heard an exceptional amount of detail. And hearing that fine detail is essential to fully appreciate these performances.
Vyacheslav Artyomov: A Sonata of Meditations; A Garland of Recitations; Totem
Mark Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble; Vladimir Pakulichev, flute; Anatoli Liubimovm, oboe;
Lev Mikhailov, saxophones; Valeriy Popov, bassoon;
Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Moscow State
Philharmonic; Virko Baley, conductor