In his own booklet note for this valuable new recording, Valentin Silvestrov outlines how these pieces arose ‘unintentionally and spontaneously’. Between 2003 and 2017 he composed around 30 hours of short pieces for solo piano, grouped them into cycles of 2-10 pieces and then organised them into ‘super-cycles’ of Bagatelles designed to be played continuously, ‘forming a long chain of musical moments.’
The Polish pianist Tomasz Kamieniak presents one of those super-cycles on this album. ‘I strongly recommend that you listen to this disc without interruption,’ writes Silvestrov. ‘Then the metaphorical nature of this music will become more obvious this is not neo-romanticism, there is no stylisation, but, perhaps, something new, a hidden modernness.’
It was indeed this quality of hidden modernity, something recovered from the past and made new again, that
gained Silvestrov a cult following once
the Melodiya recording of his Fifth Symphony reached Europe in the 1980s. Since then his output has embraced instrumental music of almost every genre as well as a painfully beautiful Requiem written to honour the memory of his late wife Larissa Bondarenko. Silvestrov’s aim in nearly all his music is to offer peace and consolation.
In a second note for the album, Tomasz Kamieniak explains how this music is trickier to perform than it may sound. On a single page, sometimes within a single line, the scores are meticulously inflected by a wide range of dynamic and phrasing marks, nearly all within a soft spectrum and encouraging the performer to play lightly, sweetly, as if from far away, evoking a mood of remembrance and gentle elegy.
‘I have called the piano pieces which were created unintentionally and spontaneously between 2003 and 2017 Bagatelles. One disc of Bagatelles, similar to a concert without break, is 70 minutes continuous sound. I strongly recommend that you listen to this disc without interruption: then the metaphorical nature of this music will become more obvious, and that this is not neo-romanticism, no stylisation, but, perhaps, something new, a hidden modernness. We remember Osip Mandelstam's words: "Perhaps the whispher was born before the lips...".
I would even go so far and call the Bagatelles "symphonies for piano", in the literal sense of the word "symphony" - consonance. These pieces are "symphonies of moments", and "melodies of silence", consisting not only of music, but also of pauses, which are music as well. Perhaps, one of the functions of music will appear here - to be a consolation."
These words were witten by the composer himself, Valentin Silvestrov. Silvestrov was born in 1937 in the Ukraine, and may by counted alongside his contemporaries Arvo Pärt and Giya Kancheli as among the most profoundly spiritual composers of the 20th century.
Played with a profound feeling of repose and contemplation by Polish pianist Tomasz Kamieniak, a champion of unjustly forgotten 20th century composers.