Vadim Gluzman / Glorious Percussion / Jonathan Nott / Luzerner Sinfonieorchester

Sofia Gubaidulina: Glorious Percussion; In Tempus Praesens

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In tempus praesens, written in 2007, is Sofia Gubaidulina's second violin concerto. She wrote her first, Offertorium, in the 1980s for Gidon Kremer, one of her most ardent supporters, whose advocacy brought her to wide prominence in the West, and it remains the work for which she is best known. This 30-minute concerto, made up of five sections in a single movement, was written for Anne-Sofie Mutter, who recorded it with Valery Gergiev. Like so many of the composer's works, its themes are religious and its construction is informed by Christian symbolism. While it is thoroughly dramatic in its musical arc, its orchestration throughout is predominantly luminous with a throbbing radiance, and it culminates in an ecstatic outburst. The high-lying virtuoso solo part, with its many sections of cadenza-like effusions shimmers like a halo around the glowing orchestral core. Violinist Vadim Gluzman plays with complete assurance and beautifully conveys the music's ethereality and sense of mystery. Jonathan Nott draws lively, colorful playing from the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Percussion quintet Glorious Percussion was formed to play the premiere of Gubaidulina's 2008 percussion concerto and took its name from the work's title. The composer has long had an interest in percussion instruments, traditional and exotic, and the concerto gives her the opportunity to showcase a broad array of instruments. Her deployment of the percussion is circumspect, though, and the percussion instruments are as often used as coloration in the orchestral fabric as they are set in dramatic contrast to it. When the percussionists are in the spotlight, Gubaidulina tends to give them music of great timbral delicacy and clarity rather than using them in ways that are obviously virtuosic; she holds audiences' attention not with bombast but by requiring them to listen very carefully to the tiny, exquisite sounds the ensemble produces. The sound of the BIS recording is clear, clean, and detailed.

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