Sergey Zhukov    



honored art worker of Russian Federation



 "Angels Day"

concerto for violin and orchestra


Violin concert which is the part of the instrumental concerts devoted to the Bekova sisters, is des
tined to violinist Elvira Bekova and as each of the works of the macrocycle is a characteristic portrait of the performer.
In this portrait cherubic mean absence of conflict and the "absolute positive" if you trust the words of the composer. But not only. "Angel
s Day" is neo-classical model set to classical forms, with lots of styling and wittily introduced quasi-quotes, with various references to semantically stable turnover of musical language - so, for example, as a landmark introduction of brass to emphasize the importance of the dramatic moment. " Angels Day" in many respects is the carnivals construction , but carnival is not only reduces, it does not eliminate the lyrics, it is - a manifestation of the theater thinking, which is so characteristic for Sergei Zhukov. And this personal quality the composer provided  to the portrait of the performer, but the main thing - to the hero of the story: an Angel.
The name of the concert - another clever stroke of the author. The words Angel
s Day, as you know, are called the birthday, but the program titles of the parts of the composition remove an a priori attitude to the content (and this is also the moment of the game). An Angel in the version of Sergei Zhukov is the animated creature, which is clearly informs the music and what kind of contradicts the remark, which the composer considers it is necessary to include: "Angels (greek -  "messengers "), in the Judaic, Christian and Muslim mythologies incorporeal creatures, whose purpose - to serve one God, fighting with his enemies, paying him glory, bringing the elements of His will and the people. "

Thus, the Angel's Day  - a sequence of actions described in the classic four-part concert:
I -   Morning Touch
II -  Messenger
III - Vespers
IV - Night Flight

"Morning Touch"- in the type of writing is akin to watercolors. The main  sound idea is - delineation of infinite space between earth and heaven, which a violin solo, appearing in almost stratospheric altitude, gradually fills the gentle singing of the angels. The theme of the violin, as if prompted and donated by the horns, developed and "re gifts" to strings, only to dissolve in the general chorus - "incorporeal" flageolets. And in this shining vision of the heavenly spheres, like a touch of angel wings one can to listen to the final tune of celesta.
"Messenger" - Scherzo, which is written in the spirit of
tuum mobile. Light and very fast movement of the heavenly cavalcade, headed by the flying violin ("audio response" to the Mendelsons Fairy Mab?) does not occur immediately, and after the introduction-preparation, in which emphasizes in the special way the magic of the happening - some sacramental 12 blows of invisible from the land angels clock.
"Vespers" - performs the function of Adagio in classic cycle, greatly distinguished, above all, not heaven - but earth character. Moving in space is specified with the first bars: the growth of hum, as if approaching the ground, the downward movement in the party of violin, which is backed by an orchestra. The
previous and somewhat abstract magic of the mystery is transformed into a concrete church service, in which Angel is present and which he is headed, by singing about the earthly sorrow.
"Night Flight" - a fantastic scherzo-finale, with special psychological trap "at the start." The initial phrases promise something like marche funebre. However, as soon as there was a setup on "the darkness" as the character of the music changed dramatically, as if incorporated spotlight. "Night Flight" is the most colorful and heuristic part of the concert. This is especially a great variety of stylistic allusions - and not very perceptible, and very specific. For example, the main party of the final constructed directly on the middle part of M. Glinka "March Chernomor" and adverse party in the reprise frankly "grows" on the theme of S. Prokofiev's Seventh Symphony, which gives the Earths optimism to the Heaven, giving rise to universal harmony.
According to the composition of the author's comment, "This is an attempt of reconciliation of opposites, an attempt to penetrate into the worlds of the ascending series, the harmonization of man and the cosmos."

For the "concerned ear" - an additional hint (clue) of the idea of final is the presence in the music the theme coming from the "Enlightened Night" of A. Schoenberg, though re-orchestrated. According to the author's comment on the composition, "it is a state of enlightened magic night I was trying to hold all of the fourth part." And again: "This is an attempt of reconciliation of opposites, an attempt to penetrate into the worlds of the ascending series, the harmonization of man and the Universe."

Olga Bugrova


Review on Cameo Classics CD


Violin Concerto Angels Day


 Violin Concerto Angels Day was written for the violinist on this recording, Elvira Bekov and reflects Zhukovs portrait of both the Angel and the performer.

Timpani underline a brooding orchestral opening of the first movement, Morning Touch, with the solo violin appearing at its extreme, highest register, creating an un-earthly sound. The orchestra rises up in swathes of sound, surely one of the strangest and most beautiful of openings. Soon the violin develops a theme against a delicate orchestral accompaniment, slowly rising in drama. The music descends to a quiet shimmering section for violin and orchestra, where Zhukov is quite magical in his orchestration. A celeste plays a little tune against a hushed solo violin, again high in its register, as the movement concludes.

A little ringing bell opens Messenger before the violin enters in a skittish motif. The orchestra joins as the violin speeds, in this fleet footed scherzo, full of fantasy and wit. The music is in the form of a moto-perpetuo in its insistent yet entertaining way. Eventually a broader orchestral section appears before the solo violin joins, playing a rather acerbic theme. Soon the moto-perpetuo returns hurtling the music to a plateau with some beautifully translucent orchestral writing in which the soloist joins. The music slowly quietens and fades.

Vespers opens with a hushed orchestra over which there are drips or points of sound given by various percussion instruments. This dark, mysterious adagio is brilliantly conceived. As the orchestra fades to silence the solo violin enters with a descending scale, the orchestra joins and repeats the scale into the depths. The violin brings a lovely melody underlaid by a hushed, mysterious orchestral background. Elvira Bekova is superb, the way she brings such a lovely tone and an anguished feel to her timbre. Slowly the music builds in tension and drama as the orchestra, after a bell chime, becomes increasingly dynamic leading to a sudden climax with the powerful orchestra almost engulfing the soloist who, nevertheless, weaves a rising and falling theme through the orchestra that eventually collapses to leave the soloist and hovering strings. A skittish descending motif for violin is repeated against an atmospheric orchestral sound, with celesta and bell chimes, leading to a hushed coda. This is music that sticks in the mind.

A descending theme over a tolling pulse from the orchestra opens the fourth and final movement, Night Flight, effectively the scherzo with allusions to Glinka, Prokofiev and Schoenberg. There is soon an outburst, with bells, before the soloist enters, slowly building the rapid theme with an orchestra full of texture. The music lightens as it moves forward, the violin now playing a real melody. This is a real treat with Bekova creating a real tapestry of sounds. Schoenberg appears, then Glinka before the music rises to a fine climax, full of brass and a theme from Prokofievs seventh symphony makes an appearance. The music falls to a hush, in a gorgeous section for soloist and orchestra, with celesta and bells and the soloist high in her register fading into silence.

This is an exquisite conclusion to a very fine work.

There is always a lyrical, tonal core to Zhukovs music. He is a composer that we need to hear more of. The two soloists are first rate and are very ably supported by Marius Stravinsky and Konstantin Krimets with their two respective orchestras.

The recordings are very good though, in the violin concerto, the soloist is rather closely mixed and there is the odd cough from the audience.
There are useful booklet notes.

Cameo Classics should be congratulated for enabling us to hear these two fine works. Lovers of contemporary Russian music should snap this disc up.

Posted by Bruce Reader

The Classical Reviewer