Written on a commission from pianist Marina Mdivani in 1962, Sofiya Gubaydulina's Ciacona has been deemed a "student work" by its author, not worthy of the same recognition as pieces written only a few years later (1965 saw the composition of what she considered her "opus one"). It is true that Gubaydulina's mature style is present here only in occasional glimmers and foretastes, but the Ciacona is nevertheless quite a satisfying work to listen to, the product of both a good student of music at work and a ferocious creative temperament which would eventually find its full expression. At first, the Ciacona seems to be a perfectly typical modern example of the old Baroque form. It begins with a properly sonorous, arresting eight-bar idea, potent with harmonic possibility, and the initial moves Gubaydulina makes with it -- quickening the tempo of the accompaniment, moving the idea from top to bottom to middle, overlaying a melody in another rhythm -- would have been familiar to Bach, even if the quite modern harmonies would not have been. Yet Gubaydulina shows imagination in the way she develops the material, working the textures to a point where quick, rippling melodies are opposed to huge smashes of chords. Finally a fugato, nervous and thrilling, takes off from the wreckage of one particularly emphatic series of chords, signaling Gubaydulina's complete abandonment of the eight-bar form. After a crashing climax, the tempo becomes slower and the music quieter, and the textures rebuild themselves from the basic harmonic relations suggested by the theme. Soon this music too has begun racing, and one last blistering run up the keyboard sets the stage for the unaltered return of the initial ciacona theme. Motoric chords in the bass guide the piece to a quiet conclusion. Gubaydulina may have been indebted to an ancient form when composing this piece, but it is clear that she had mastered it and begun to think of original ways of modifying it. Anyone who does not expect mature Gubaydulina will enjoy this work.
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Description by Andrew Lindemann Malone
|2014||Champs Hill Records||CHRCD 070|
|2012||ECM / ECM New Series|
|2012||ECM New Series||22554764661|
|2000||Black Box Classics||BBM1039|
|Sony Music Distribution||53960|