EMIL TABAKOV (b.1947): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 2 - Symphony No. 1, Viola Concerto.
Catalogue Number: 08T011
Label: Toccata Classics
Description: Tabakov's first essay in the form to which he has repeatedly returned, from 1981-82, is a powerful, dark, apocalyptic vision. Rather more obviously tonal than the impressive 8th that we offered last year (08S009), it is likewise built of small motifs that are obsessively reiterated, overlain and developed, though in this case they often sound like shards splintered from Shostakovich symphonies, taking on an efflorescing growth of their own. The first movement begins with harsh fanfares, which give way to a warlike tumult. There is a sense of sonata form about this movement, and the second subject is a long Orthodox chant-like melody in the bass register, subdued and solemn - abrupt contrasts like this are central to the composer's style. Tabakov denies any programmatic content, or that the second theme bears any relation to the Dies irae, but the first subject is clearly battle music, and the second shares a phrase with Tommaso di Celano's great hymn, this disclaimer seems otiose. In any event, as the movement progresses the material is developed so that the themes absorb one another's character, leading to a cataclysmic climax. The slow movement presents variations on a fragment of material from the first, with elements of surreal irony that recall episodes in Shostakovich's 4th. After a hushed introduction, the finale is a propulsive presto, revisiting ideas from the first movement with more than a trace of Shostakovich again (the 5th and 10th this time). The 2007 concerto is also a work that plumbs the depths, though in these later works the tonality is more ambiguous and the material more varied. A dark, brooding introduction gives way to the increasingly tense and agitated first movement, in which the soloist seems locked in an increasingly desperate conflict with the orchestra's monumental, driving tutti. The viola closes the movement with an extended, lamenting accompanied cadenza. The slow movement brings a change of scenery - to a lush landscape out of myth and legend, but haunted by melancholy and the ominous foreboding of dreams. The tripartite finale comprises vigorous outer sections of militaristic momentum that build powerful climaxes, separated by a calmly brooding interlude. The work ends quietly and enigmatically. Alexander Zemtsov (viola), Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Emil Tabakov.