Under the baton of the Latvian conductor Kaspars Putninš, the Slovenian Chamber Choir and the soloists Gal Faganel (cello), Barbara Kresnick and Matevž Bajde (percussion), and Aleksandra Verbicka (celesta) perform Sofia Gubaidulina's Sonnengesang (The Canticle of the Sun). Recorded at Slovenian Philharmonic, Marjan Kozina Hall, on January 26, 2014.
Sofia Gubaidulina is unquestionably a modernist and employs a wide spectrum of contemporary techniques, but she is also a mystic, so her music tends to convey a striving for transcendence that's expressed in luminous warmth.
The Canticle of the Sun for cello, chamber choir, percussion and celesta was dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave its premiere in 1998. The unique orchestration gives it an atmosphere of luminous, ethereal mystery. She wanted to pay tribute to the cellist's famously sunny disposition, and it has sections that make one of her most exuberant works; the cello sends major chords rocketing through the first movement and there is a furiously powerful roar of ecstasy at the end of the second movement. The piece ends in the major, in an exquisitely delicate filigree of interwoven lines.
Source: Stephen Eddins (allmusic.com)
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
♪ The Canticle of the Sun (Sonnengesang) (1997)
i. Glorification of the Creator, and His Creations: the Sun and the Moon
ii. Glorification of the Creator, the Maker of the Four Elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth
iii. Glorification of Life
iv. Glorification of Death
Gal Faganel, cello
Barbara Kresnick, Matevž Bajde, percussion
Aleksandra Verbicka, celesta
Slovenian Chamber Choir
Conductor: Kaspars Putninš
Slovenian Philharmonic, Marjan Kozina Hall, January 26, 2014
Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic of the Soviet Union in 1931. After instruction in piano and composition at the Kazan Conservatory, she studied composition with Nikolai Peiko at the Moscow Conservatory, pursuing graduate studies there under Vissarion Shebalin. Until 1992, she lived in Moscow. Since then, she has made her primary residence in Germany, outside Hamburg.
Gubaidulina's compositional interests have been stimulated by the tactile exploration and improvisation with rare Russian, Caucasian, and Asian folk and ritual instruments collected by the "Astreia" ensemble, of which she was a co-founder, by the rapid absorption and personalization of contemporary Western musical techniques (a characteristic, too, of other Soviet composers of the post-Stalin generation including Edison Denisov and Alfred Schnittke), and by a deep-rooted belief in the mystical properties of music.
Her uncompromising dedication to a singular vision did not endear her to the Soviet musical establishment, but her music was championed in Russia by a number of devoted performers including Vladimir Tonkha, Friedrich Lips, Mark Pekarsky, and Valery Popov. The determined advocacy of Gidon Kremer, dedicatee of Gubaidulina's masterly violin concerto, Offertorium, helped bring the composer to international attention in the early 1980s. Gubaidulina is the author of symphonic and choral works, two cello concerti, a viola concerto, four string quartets, a string trio, works for percussion ensemble, and many works for nonstandard instruments and distinctive combinations of instruments. Her scores frequently explore unconventional techniques of sound production.
Since 1985, when she was first allowed to travel to the West, Gubaidulina's stature in the world of contemporary music has skyrocketed. She has been the recipient of prestigious commissions from the Berlin, Helsinki, and Holland Festivals, the Library of Congress, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and many other organizations and ensembles. A major triumph was the premiere in 2002 of the monumental two-part cycle, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ according to St John, commissioned respectively by the International Bachakademie Stuttgart and the Norddeutschen Rundfunk, Hamburg.
Gubaidulina made her first visit to North America in 1987 as a guest of Louisville's "Sound Celebration." She has returned many times since as a featured composer of festivals – Boston's "Making Music Together" (1988), Vancouver's "New Music" (1991), Tanglewood (1997), Marlboro (2016) – and for other performance milestones. In May 2011, she was feted on the occasion of her 80th birthday in concerts presented by the California Institute of the Arts and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From the retrospective concert by Continuum (New York, 1989) to the world premieres of commissioned works – Pro et Contra by the Louisville Orchestra (1989), String Quartet No.4 by the Kronos Quartet (New York, 1994), Dancer on a Tightrope by Robert Mann and Ursula Oppens (Washington, DC, 1994), the Viola Concerto by Yuri Bashmet with the Chicago Symphony conducted by Kent Nagano (1997), Two Paths ("A Dedication to Mary and Martha") for two solo violas and orchestra, by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur (1999), Light of the End by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Masur (2003), and Pilgrims for violin, double bass, piano and two percussionists (2015) by Chicago's Contempo Ensemble – the accolades of American critics have been ecstatic.
In January 2007, Gubaidulina was the first woman composer to be spotlighted by the BBC during its annual "composer weekend" in London. Among her most recent compositions are Feast During a Plague (2005), jointly commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – and conducted in Philadelphia by Sir Simon Rattle and in Pittsburgh and New York by Sir Andrew Davis – In Tempus Praesens, a violin concerto unveiled at the 2007 Lucerne Festival by Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Rattle, and Glorious Percussion, a concerto for five solo percussionists and orchestra premiered in 2008 by Gustavo Dudamel and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
Gubaidulina is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm and of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecila in Rome. She has been the recipient of the Prix de Monaco (1987), the Premio Franco Abbiato (1991), the Heidelberger Künstlerinnenpreis (1991), the Russian State Prize (1992), and the SpohrPreis (1995). Recent awards include the prestigious Praemium Imperiale in Japan (1998), the Sonning Prize in Denmark (1999), the Polar Music Prize in Sweden (2002), the Living Composer Prize of the Cannes Classical Awards (2003), the Great Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009), the "Golden Lion" for Lifetime Achievement of the Venice Bieniale (2013), and the Prix de l'Académie Royale de Belgique (2014). In 2005, she was elected as a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Yale University (2009) and the University of Chicago (2011).
Her music is now generously represented on compact disc, and Gubaidulina has been honored twice with the coveted Koussevitzky International Recording Award. Major releases have appeared on the DG, Chandos, Philips, Sony Classical, BIS, Berlin Classics and Naxos labels.
Gal Faganel (b. 1979, Ljubljana, Slovenia) is an acclaimed cello performer, teacher, coach, and recording artist. He has been praised in the press for his "exceptionally sensitive interpretation" (Slovenec – Slovenia), his "powerful and beautiful tone" (Dornse Krant – Netherlands), and his "brilliant virtuosity and youthful vigor" (Primorske Novice – Slovenia).
As a performer, Faganel is frequently heard in recital, in chamber music concerts, and as a soloist with orchestra throughout North America and Europe. He is the founder and artistic director of the Arizona Chamber Orchestra, a conductor-less ensemble founded in 2009. Until 2010 he served as the acting principal cellist of the Phoenix Symphony. As a member of the Tetraktys String Quartet, he toured in the United States and Europe. He has also performed extensively with various other chamber ensembles.
Faganel is currently an assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in Greeley, where he greatly enjoys teaching cello and coaching chamber music. Prior to his appointment at UNC, he taught at Scottsdale Community College and the University of Southern California. He regularly conducts master classes and teaches at summer music programs in the United States and Europe. At UNC, Faganel has received several grants for travel, research, and performances in four continents. Innovative teaching approaches utilizing video conferencing technology allow Faganel to be accessible to students worldwide.
At age 13, Faganel won his first competition; he received first prize in the international competition Alpe Adria "Alfredo Marcosig" in Italy at age 15. In addition to winning three other international competitions, including the International Cello Competition "Antonio Janigro" in Croatia, he won the American String Teacher's Association Competition in California and the Slovenian National Competition as a soloist and with piano trio. In 1997 he was named "Young Musician of the Year" in Slovenia. The following year he won a national competition to represent Slovenia at the European Broadcasting Union – Eurovision Competition in Lisbon, Portugal.
In 2006, Faganel began researching, cataloging, performing, and recording music for cello by Slovenian composers. He has completed two of the five planned CDs published by Astrum. The project has been supported by the Slovenian government and UNC. He has also done live broadcasts and archival recordings for National Radio Slovenia, Holland Radio, Classical KUSC in Los Angeles, and KBAQ in Phoenix.
Gal grew up in a musical family and announced the desire to play cello at age three. When he was eight years old he began studying cello in his native Slovenia. He continued his studies in Croatia, where his appearance in an international competition led to an invitation and a full-tuition scholarship to study at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His university studies culminated ten years later with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. His mentors include Eleonore Schoenfeld, Nathaniel Rosen, Daniel Rothmuller, Peter Marsh, and Dobrila Berković-Magdalenić. He collaborated with and learned from many renowned conductors and soloists, including Sergiu Comissiona, Zubin Mehta, Lionel Friend, Carl St. Clair, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrel, Midori Goto, Isaac Stern, Joshua Bell, Itzak Perlman and Pavel Vernikov.
Sofia Gubaidulina: Et Exspecto – José Valente (HD 1080p)
Sofia Gubaidulina: De Profundis – José Valente (HD 1080p)
Sofia Gubaidulina: Sieben Worte for cello, bayan and strings – Jean-Guihen Queyras, Geir Draugsvoll, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Per Kristian Skalstad (HD 1080p)
Sofia Gubaidulina: Fachwerk for bayan, percussion and string orchestra – Geir Draugsvoll, Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra,Terje Tønnesen (HD 1080p)