ECM's booklet quotes Valentin Silvestrov as saying: "What I deal with might be termed poetry in music." It's a statement borne out by this important disc of his chamber music. The basic impulse is lyrical, but these works are full of startling dynamic shifts and dramatic nuances. His is a subtle art; the String Quartet No. 1, for example, opens with a hushed, choralelike passage that slowly separates into the individual instruments quietly parting with the group and then rejoining it for ghostly unison figures. Later, we hear coloratura figures in the violin and still later, slashing, dramatic episodes that subside and revive again until the music fades into one of the punctuating silences.
Similar effects are heard in the other works, fully absorbing the listener in Silvestrov's sound world. In the Cello Sonata, the piano is a full partner, its pedal effects coloring the music like a third participant, an effect well captured by the excellent sonics. Typical of the innate drama of his music is the Three Postludes, whose performers are instructed to leave the stage as their Postlude dies out. The first is for soprano and piano trio; the second for violin alone; the last, for cello and piano. Silvestrov himself ends the program at the piano with his haunting Hymn 2001. Performances by the outstanding players of the Rosamunde Quartet and assisting artists are as good as can be. --Dan Davis