Program Note

Quaternion’ may be the term for a mathematical operation‚ but there is nothing calculated or contrived about Sofia Gubaidulina’s Quaternion for four cellos‚ written in 1996 and now receiving its first recording. At its best – as it certainly is here – Gubaidulina’s music manages to combine a fiercely improvisatory freedom with a satisfying sense of balance and coherence. On one level Quaternion concerns the contrast between the mundane and the transcendent. Yet although the music contains strikingly immediate evocations of both the earthy and the uncanny‚ it never suggests the withdrawn serenity of a spirituality that regards the real world as ‘well lost’. In this performance‚ Alexander Ivashkin and his three co­performers achieve marvels of co­ordination‚ as well as an astonishingly wide range of instrumental colour‚ qualities enhanced by a truthful and well­balanced recording.
Two earlier works complete the programme. The Ten Preludes for solo cello (1974) encapsulate energy and expressiveness to highly­charged poetic effect. In Croce for cello and organ (1979) transforms what could have been a simplistic exercise in the registral crossing over of two very different sound sources into a grippingly unpredictable drama of convergence and divergence. Here again the recording – made in the church of St Silas in London’s Kentish Town – is very successful in allowing the two instruments to be heard in as natural an acoustic as possible. Both pieces have been recorded before‚ and you might welcome the chance to acquire the bargain­price version of In Croce in its alternative arrangement for cello and accordion (Naxos‚ 6/96). But Alexander Ivashkin is a fine player‚ unsurpassed in Gubaidulina’s music.

About Sofia Gubaidulina

Born: 1931 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…