EMIL TABAKOV (b.1947): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 3 - Symphony No. 4, Concert Piece.
Catalogue Number: 09U059
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0467
Description: The third volume in this exceptionally valuable series presents two works that find Tabakov, the seer of apocalyptic visions, at his darkest and most unrelentingly obsessive. Like the previous works we've offered (08S009, 08T011), these are large, powerful statements in a strongly, though amply dissonant tonal idiom, their expansive structures built from repeated motifs and obsessive ostinati (which never even remotely resemble minimalism). The extraordinary Concert Piece is best described as a 12-minute hellish battle scene. The antagonists are a brutally mindless, hectoring synthesizer, playing persistently mechanical arpeggii, and the snarling, baying orchestra. After the initial confrontation the organ blasts through the texture, resulting in a stunned, shell-shocked temporary cessation of hostilities before the orchestra, led by the large percussion section, summons its full forces again in a nightmarish climax which reawakens the machine and leads to a final cataclysm after which the music simply decays, with the organ wind pressure dropping in a dying moan, accompanied by the death rattle of the electronic instrument. The symphony of 1997 is as brooding and dark a work as any admirer of Shostakovich or Pettersson might wish for. The huge fifty-minute canvas is laid out in an approximation of conventional 4-movement form, though with a slow, shadowy expository first movement in place of the customary allegro. It achieves a brief, imposing climax before subsiding back into stillness and gloom. The energetic second movement begins with music reminiscent of Shostakovich scherzi, perhaps those of the 5th and 8th, but soon the thing flies utterly out of control and becomes a pummeling, hectic dance, a most unsavory hobgoblin revelry based on the fragments of rhythms of Bulgarian and Rumanian folk dances, obsessively whirling in a frenzied tumult. The symphony's real slow movement, spare and distant, suggests a bleak, desolate, almost featureless landscape in which only a few remaining birds chant dismal songs (the booklet annotator aptly cites Rachel Carson's 1962 vision of a future world without nature). An unexpected, passionate outburst that seems to have wandered in from Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony emerges mid-movement and just as abruptly disappears. The finale is a scurrying perpetuum mobile superimposed on a stark theme, repeated and developed throughout the movement, and a gradually emerging thunderous, leaden ostinato. These obsessive gestures continue, joined by material from earlier in the symphony, notably the tenebrous motifs of the first movement. The work concludes with a final overwhelming statement of monumental, lowering grandeur. Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Emil Tabakov.