Alexander Ivashkin’s bold, confident cello-playing is the thread running through these works; he partners the organist Malcolm Hicks in the 1979 In croce, plays the Ten Preludes for the solo instrument from 1979, and leads a quartet of cellos in the remarkable Quaternion. Though many of Sofia Gubaidulina’s works have a religious dimension, In croce does not, despite its title; ‘On the cross’ refers to the way in which the two instruments exchange roles during the work, the cello beginning with microtones in the lowest register and gradually rising to a high diatonic end, while the organ starts off high in a pure A major and descends to the depths to a cluster that gradually collapses when the instrument’s blower is turned off. Though the Ten Preludes stretch the player’s capabilities to the maximum, they remain more or less within the conventional resources of the instrument. But Quaternion creates a whole new, ethereal, sound-world in which the cellos are tuned in pairs a quarter-tone apart, the players wear thimbles on their fingers in one section, and the music is persistently coloured by harmonics.
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931), growing up in the Tatar Republic, bound peculiar fusion of Eastern and Western into dramatic polarities in her later work. She graduated from the Kazan' Conservatory in 1954 having studied composition and piano; she then left for Moscow, where she studied at the Conservatory with Nikolay Peyko until 1959, and then with Shebalin until 1963. Already by this time, Gubaidulina was marked …….
This CD brings together four chamber works by Sofia Gubaidulina dating from 1978 to 2002. Part of the reason Gubaidulina's works are so aurally appealing is that, in spite of being thoroughly "modern," they are innovative not so much in their pitch organization, the hallmark of modernism in twentieth century music, but in their innovative timbral qualities and the individuality of their approach to structure. Another element in their appeal is the sensitivity and musicality with which she assembles her colorful structures – her gestures ………Stephen Eddins @ AllMusic.com