Denisov: Au plus haut des cieux (CD)

Harmonia Mundi
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Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, Daniel Kawka

Edison Denisov (1929-1996) studied with Shebalin at the Moscow Conservatory, where he later taught instrumentation and, from 1990, composition. He spent the winter of 1990–1 at the electronic studio of IRCAM in Paris, on the invitation of Pierre Boulez. After a car accident in 1994 he spent much of the end of his life in Paris, where he died in 1996. With Schnittke and Gubaidulina he was among the leading figures in post-Stalinist Russian music, drawing on contemporary techniques from serial to electronic.

This CD presents works from his late period, among them 'Au plus haut des cieux' – a setting of texts by Georges Bataille – which is emblematic of these compositions. The deeply spiritual music recorded here echoes words to be found in Denisov’s personal notebooks: ‘Before the face of the Night, I am alone and powerless.’ Denisov left two symphonies for full orchestra and two chamber symphonies, in addition to a number of concertos, the last two for flute, harp and orchestra and for flute, clarinet and orchestra respectively. His chamber music includes duo sonatas, trios, string quartets and quintets, in addition to a variety of music for other ensembles, and for solo piano [much of it recorded for Bis].

The Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain is an instrumental ensemble with a nucleus of 19 musicians which can expand to orchestral dimensions as necessary. It was founded in 1992 by its current music director Daniel Kawka.