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"Chimes" in the Cathedral: on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Valery Gavrilin

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"Chimes" in the Cathedral: on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Valery Gavrilin

A wonderful Petersburg composer, a native of Vologda, Valery Aleksandrovich Gavrilin left us more than 20 years ago, but his music sounds more often every year and wins the hearts of more and more listeners.

Valery Gavrilin (1939-1999)

It is especially pleasant and appropriate to recall this today, August 17, on the day of its 80th anniversary. Yes, Valery Gavrilin did not live to see this day; he did not live six months even before his sixtieth birthday, passing away on January 28, 1999, in that difficult and troubled time, when many thought that Russia had irrevocably died.

But in fact, it is much more important to remember that Valery Alexandrovich lived a beautiful – albeit very difficult – life filled with creativity, love and faith. Gavrilin’s father died at the front when the boy was not yet three years old, and his mother, the director of the Kadnikovsky orphanage, was convicted after the war and was serving a prison term. As a result, little Valera ended up in an orphanage, and it was probably his music lessons and good teachers who saved him from possible troubles associated with orphanhood.

No matter how difficult the fate of the young musician was, however, having lived on this Earth for 59 and a half years, the composer Gavrilin still had much more time for creativity and understanding of life than many of his favorite composers, with whom he himself was compared. He lived 13 years longer than his adored Robert Schumann, who died at 46 years old (like Schumann, Gavrilin wrote songs to verses by Heinrich Heine), and 28 (!!!) – Franz Schubert, who left this world at only 31 years old . Gavrilin managed to see the recognition of the fruits of his work, to receive high marks from the public and, what was extremely important for him, from his teachers and senior contemporaries – such recognized masters as Dmitry Shostakovich and George Sviridov. The bowl of his life was full to the brim: the composer Gavrilin managed to express himself in a fairly full measure. Although he sometimes wanted more, he planned something, but did not have time. However, man assumes, but God disposes.

"Chimes" in Leningrad. V. Gavrilin with the Moscow Chamber Choir. Great Hall of the Philharmonic. 06/13/1990

Many who are well acquainted with the work of Gavrilin tend to consider him a brilliant composer. Indeed, the signs of true genius are obvious: the simplicity, clarity, depth and genuine warmth of music with recognizable stylistics, an original musical language. Muse Gavrilin, with its pronounced nationality and universality, at the same time – according to Baratynsky – “faces are not a common expression”.

Of his legacy, songs and romances are most often performed (especially “Autumn” to verses by Tatyana Kalinina), music from the ballet “Anyuta” based on Chekhov’s story “Anna on the Neck”, which – which is a rare case for Gavrilin’s music – also sounds outside of Russia , and a choral symphony-action for soloists, mixed choir, oboe, percussion and the reader “Chimes” (after reading by V. M. Shukshin) to folk words, texts by A. Shulgin and Gavrilin himself (composition 1978-1982, premiere – 1984).

In particular, most recently, on July 7 of this year, “Chimes” with forced bills (omitted fragments that are not very appropriate to sound under the vaults of the temple), organically replaced by a selection of various choirs of Georgy Sviridov, were performed by the St. Petersburg Concert Choir Vladimir Begletsov under the arches of Theodorovsky Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Vladimir Begletsov

Honored Artist of Russia Vladimir Begletsov answered several of our questions.

– You recently performed “The Chimes” at the Feodorovsky Cathedral. Could you tell us about Gavrilin, about your attitude to him, about the experience of performing his works?

– “Chimes” are performed by us every season, sometimes even several times, the next time will be September 11, and then in November at the Sheremetev Palace. Before that, it was Theodore Cathedral, as you mentioned. This was a very bold decision of the rector Archpriest Alexander Sorokin, and, of course, there was a condition that I replace the three parts (the first, last and the “Scared Woman”) with Sviridov’s music. It turned out well, because one and the other were Russian composers of about the same school, of the same orientation, and were engaged in choral work.

Concert choir of St. Petersburg performs at Theodorovsky Cathedral

Why did father Alexander want to show “Chimes” to his parishioners? Because, firstly, this is a Russian theme, and secondly, the Feodorovsky Cathedral after the restoration is very “Rachmaninov’s” in style, and the music of the “Chimes” (the bell tower that is present there, like in Rachmaninov’s music) just fit – and acoustically, and in all other respects.

“Chimes” is a story of a person’s life from the beginning, birth, and to death, it is both love and comic moments. This symphony is called “After reading Vasily Shukshin”, but the texts of Shukshin themselves are not there. But the theme is very consonant with the same "Kalina red". This music is inherently spiritual, because it always calls upon God, and the monologue “Lord, why don’t you forgive me?” Is a very bold statement. There was nothing antagonistic in the fact that we performed it under the arches of the temple. We did this last year, and it was a huge success. I like the idea that a temple can be not only the Temple of God, but also a temple of music within the limits of what is permitted. In my opinion, this is colossal!

– As far as I know, Gavrilin loved German music, which was reflected in his German Notebooks. Is it possible to say that when he composed “Chimes”, he remembered that there was “Carmine Buran” and other oratorios and contacts of Karl Orff?

– Of course, as an educated and original composer, he knew all this, and this influenced him. For example, the first and last parts are similar to the “Carmine Burana” beat rhythm – the same material sounds at the beginning and at the end, but Orff has his own, Gavrilin has his own.

– Does Gavrilin’s music now sound abroad or is it a purely domestic product?

– I think that if it sounds, it is fragmented. Gavrilin is not performed, because it is completely alien to the West material, they listen, but what can they understand in this music? Rachmaninov – yes! Because, firstly, it is Rachmaninoff, a famous historical name, and secondly, it is liturgical music. But not only Gavrilin is not appreciated: in the West philharmonic halls, say, Scriabin is rarely present. It’s rare when you see The Poem of Ecstasy, but Prometheus, like everything else, doesn’t exist at all. And the pianists don’t play this music, except that Vladimir Horovits played and recorded Scriabin’s sonatas, and that’s because it was ours and found live Scriabin.

Vladimir Begletsov also noted that the temple space obliges to a certain internal severity: when you sing in the temple, something special is felt, since the temple is a living organism. The performance of the Concert Choir of St. Petersburg under the vaults of Theodorovsky Cathedral has already become a good tradition: for seven years several times a year the group performs “Holy Week” by Alexander Grechaninov, “All-Night Vigil” by Sergei Rachmaninov and other chants.

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