Boris Tishchenko music of the ballet


CLICK TO CHANGE IMAGE:

NF/PMA 9931/2

Digital premastering: Stanislav Vazhov. English version: Sergey Suslov. Design: Anastasia Evmenova and Oleg Fakhrutdinov

Boris Tishchenko (р. 1939)
CD1

Yaroslavna A ballet in three acts Op. 58 (1973)

1.

Act I:

36.21

Introduction, Moan of Russian Land, Feud, Slain Man, Mourning for the Slain Man, Yaroslavna, Svyatoslav, Igor’s Knights, Preparations for the March, Igor Glorified, Yaroslavna and Igor, Start of the March, Eclipse

2.

Act II:

23.54

Introduction, The March Continued, Steppe, First Battle with the Polovtsi, “Games” with Polovets Girls, The Night before the Second Battle, Anticipation at Night, The Polovets Camp, Idol

Total time:

60:19

Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Leningrad Maly Opera and Ballet Theater. Conductor: Alexander Dmitriev
Recorded at Petersburg Recording Studio, 1976. Sound engineer: Felix Gurdji

     CD2
Yaroslavna
A ballet in three acts Op. 58

1.

Act III:

29.57

Introduction, War Cries, Arrows, Second Battle with the Polovtsi, Death Steppe, Yaroslavna’s Lament, Igor with the Polovtsi, Igor’s Escape, Plowing Boy, Coming Back, Appeal, Prayer,

Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (1967)

2.

Meditation

22:08

3.

Postscript

8:25

Total time:

60:38

Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Leningrad Maly Opera and Ballet Theater. Conductor: Alexander Dmitriev (1)
Kirov Opera and Ballet Chamber Orchestra.
Conductor: Igor Blazhkov (2-3)
Recorded at Petersburg Recording Studio, 1976 (1) and 1972 (2-3). Sound engineer: Felix Gurdji

Boris Tishchenko is one of the greatest composers of today’s Russia. He was born in Leningrad in 1939, and entered the Rimsky–Korsakov College of Leningrad Conservatory in 1954, to study composition with Galina Ustvolskaya. In 1962 Tishchenko graduated from that oldest Russian conservatory where his teachers in composition were the leading professors Vadim Salmanov, Orest Yevlakhov, and Viktor Voloshinov. At the graduation, his second diploma was in piano, which he studied with Abram Logovinsky. As early as in his Conservatory years, he displayed unusual maturity of his gift. Upon graduation, Tishchenko became a postgraduate with Dmitry Shostakovich, after which (since 1965), Tishchenko has been teaching at Leningrad / Petersburg Conservatory. He is Professor of Composition, and has been the teacher of many well–known composers.Boris Tishchenko
Shostakovich highly valued the talent of his student. This is evident if only from one example: the master gave his student his orchestration score of the First Cello Concerto, the premiere of which was performed by Mstislav Rostropovich.
The personal and professional impact of the teacher on the student cannot be overestimated. Still, Tishchenko, a person of unusually powerful individuality, avoided a direct impact of Shostakovich’s stylistics in the 1960s and 1970s. As to the composer himself, he has noted that in the 1960s, apart from Shostakovich, he felt a decisive influence of great Russian poets Anna Akhmatova and Iosif Brodsky whose acquaintance Tishchenko was.
Among the works of Boris Tishchenko widely performed by prominent masters of Russia and Europe are ten symphonies, Requiem to poetry by A. Akhmatova, concertos for different sets of instruments, ten piano sonatas, four sonatas for string instruments solo, sonata for block flute and organ, Twelve Inventions and Twelve Portraits for organ, and five string quartets; ballets Yaroslavna, Tsokotukha The Fly after Korney Chukovsky, and The Twelve after the poem by Alexander Blok, opera The Stolen Sun and operetta The Giant Cockroach after Korney Chukovsky, vocal cycles, suites for orchestra and for piano, compositions for different instruments and choirs a cappella, music to theatrical performances and films, and editions and reconstructions of works by other authors. In recent years, the composer has been working at a choreosymphonic cycliade titled Beatrice, after Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tishchenko has been awarded with the M. I. Glinka State Prize of Russia (1978) and other prestigious prizes; he is National Artist of Russia (1987).
One of the most important works of Tishchenko is his ballet Yaroslavna inspired by The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, Russia’s great monument of literature dated the 12th century, which has always attracted creators of diverse kind of arts since its recovery in the early 19th century. Though it is a generally known fact, it should be mentioned that the Tale was the basis of one of the greatest Russian operas, Prince Igor by Alexander Porfirievich Borodin.
The premiere of the ballet on the stage of Leningrad Academic Maly Opera and Ballet Theater (which used to be called MALEGOT, and which is currently known as M. P. Mussorgsky Theater) was held on June 30, 1974. The catalyst of the unusual, daring production was the theater itself, which has been inclined to experimenting for many decades of its existence. The libretto was written by the theater’s chief ballet master Oleg Vinogradov, who contributed to the production not only as choreographer, but also as stage designer. The stage solution of the production was suggested by Yuri Lyubimov, a grand master of Soviet theater in the 1960s–1980s, the founder and leader of the legendary Taganka Theater. The conductor of the production was Alexander Dmitriev, for whom Yaroslavna became one of his most brilliant theatrical efforts.
In the music of Yaroslavna we see intertwining main lines extending through all the works of the composer. It is respectful connection to the past and the talent of plunging into its secrets. Furthermore, it is deep interest in the genuine folklore, and Russian folklore first of all, as an inexhaustible source of ideas in music. The ballet’s style could not also escape influence of Tishchenko’s long–time obsession with Oriental music, and primarily with the tradition of medieval Japanese gagaku music. And finally, this ballet, like the best symphonies of Tishchenko, is an emotional vision of the world, explicit, and organically acute and dramatic at the same time.
Having profoundly studied the ample technical abilities discovered by musicians of the postwar European musical avant–garde, Tishchenko uses an immense arsenal of tools innovative for his epoch, including even sonoristics and aleatorics. But he has never been obsessed with musical technologies for their own sake; all the technical aspects of the composition are regarded as a way to produce a desired emotional state.
The Introduction opens in a lone whistling voice of piccolo flute. In this case, just as throughout the ballet, the woodwind sounds can often be associated with archaism, reminding you The Rite of Spring of Stravinsky or the timbres of ancient Japanese flutes. A lone man staring at the fathomless depth of centuries plunges into the darkness of history. And the clarinet grants the traveler years of his life as a cuckoo.
The key fragments of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (in the MALEGOT performance, the chronicle texts were elements of the scenery) are performed by a choir narrating about old times, or commenting the performance, or speaking for acting people and sounds of nature.
In ‘Moan of Russian Land’, the male choir describes the quarrels of Russian princes, “A brother told his brother, This is mine, and that is mine too.” The composer displays to the audience a picture of Russia’s disturbed life. The land torn by feuds becomes a victim of nomadic tribes’ raids. In ‘The Feud’ we can the screams of women driven away to Polovets slavery. A plowman mutters hoarsely before his death (‘Slain Man’). The intonations of the Russian lament reappear.
One of the continuous themes of the ballet appears in the ‘Yaroslavna’ episode; it is Homeland musically embodied as Woman, it is music expressing endless purity and bright quietude. Another key theme appears in the ‘Svyatoslav’ episode. The choir supported by the brass calls severely scans Svyatoslav’s “golden word mixed with tears”, “Sheathe your faulty swords, for you have lost your grandfathers’ glory”. But Igor and Vsevolod, and Igor’s knights after them, boast and show bravery, “Let us ourselves be valorous. We shall steal the coming glory for ourselves, and for ourselves divide the glory of the past.” This “ourselves” intonation will reappear at the end of ‘Preparations for the March’ in a clearly ironical context. Writes Boris Katz, “In this sullen and boastful “ourselves”, in this irresponsible separation of the personal lot from the lot of the land and the nation is the origin of the fatal delusion that turned the campaign into a disaster, and led to the first–ever capture of a Russian prince by nomads, to destruction of his force, and finally to innumerable calamities of Russian Land.”
After the most lyrical parting of Yaroslavna and Igor remotely associated with moving ballet adagios of Prokofiev, the Prince’s force sets out for the march. The culmination fragment of the entire opus is ‘Eclipse’ in the finale of Act I. The piccolo clarinet whistles a tiny disquieting tune against the organ cluster ringing in the top register. The same tune is sounded by the first clarinet a half–tone lower; similarly, all the orchestra’s instruments join in, and finally the listener is enclosed in a thick as darkness, mercilessly dense pressure of an incredible orchestra mass, which is suddenly interrupted with a general pause.
“The eclipse scene is written perfectly”, Shostakovich wrote of this episode, “and we the audience unwillingly feel the horror of the people of those ancient times, who were brave and clever and who faced an obscure and menacing phenomenon.” Despite the omen, Igor proceeds with the march leading his men to the Don. “O Russian Land! You are already behind the hill!”
An endless expanse of the steppe opens before the troop. The drowsy glissandos of the violins are but seldom broken by vague steppe rustles. The sound of the female choir in the first of the ballet’s night scenes (‘Steppe’) is peacefully transparent.
The day breaks. The first battle with the Polovtsi begins — it is a broad–scale, dynamic battle scene. Igor and his company defeat Polovets troops that are in small numbers so far. In the evening, unsophisticated games with Polovets prisoner girls follow.
The final scenes of Act II, a culmination of the ballet, are full of sparkling inspiration. ‘The Night Before the Second Battle’: sliding glissandos are heard again, this time with the violas. But this steppe tune also describes the restless sleep of the company. It is being surrounded by an innumerable force of the Polovtsi. The earth is humming, the rivers flow muddy, and dust covers the fields. The Polovtsi are coming from the Don, and from the sea, and from every side…” The sleeping Russian warriors feel all that. In ‘Anticipations at Night’ the Polovtsi appear in their dreams as monstrous hallucinations. The guttural roaring of the male choir resembling intonations of Tibetan monks, pagan sorcery of the tom–tom, dull voice of the drum, and hoarse brass intertwine into a mind–blowing picture, soaring above which is violin solo enhanced with a microphone to emphasize its frantic passion.
Generally, the image of the Polovets world in the ballet is extremely interesting; this world emanates a power both attractive and disgusting or infernal. Writes Mikhail Byalik, “The atmosphere of intoxicating, poisonous languor bears a deathly danger that bewitches and hypnotizes the victim as the stare of a boa snake.”
In the production of the Maly Opera, the Polovets force was embodied in female corps de ballet dancing on half toes. ‘The Polovets Camp’ with its unbelievable sweep, where aleatoric techniques are used in a most radical way, anticipates the thunder war cries of ‘Idol’.
The war cry intonations come back at the outset of Act III. Its vast part is the picture of a second battle ending in a defeat of the Russian forces: “From early morning till evening, and from evening till the sunlight, tempered arrows fly, swords rattle against helmets, and Damascus steel–pointed spears crack… They fought through one day, and they fought through another, and on the third day by noon, Igor’s banners fell down.” Against the background of the “steppe” glissando (this time played by cellos and doublebasses), moans of dying men are heard under the southern night sky of the south (‘Death Steppe’). Yaroslavna grieves over the defeat of Igor and his knights. “As a gull the recognized one calls out early. I shall fly, she says, as a gull along the Danube, I shall rinse by silken sleeve in the Kaiala River, and wipe away bloody wounds of my Prince…”
Igor languishes in the Polovets captivity “measuring the expanse from the Great Don to the small Donets with his thought”, and ventures on an escape. The composer anticipates the solemn jubilations of ‘Coming Back’ with the ‘Plowing Boy’ episode where the thematic material of the ‘Introduction’ to Act I reappears; before arriving in his capital, the prince steps on his native soil, and it receives him — not as a victor by a long chalk, according to Tishchenko. The words urging to unite sound powerfully and imperative, but they are not alone to sum up the composition. In the finale, the male and female choirs unite for the first time in a quiet chorale, and Yaroslavna ends in the words of a prayer.
The composer had to reject the primary title of the ballet, Eclipse; it seemed too painful, too cheerless. But the author’s view of the historical situation is tragic, and full of sadness. Unlike the unknown chronicler, he sees the collision with an unbelievable, almost challenging acuteness.
We cannot avoid quoting here the opinion on this work given by Dmitry Dmitrievich Shostakovich, “I happen to have seen the ballet three times, and each time I was excited by the expressive power of this music so Russian in its spirit.” Along with the best works of Boris Tchaikovsky, Rodion Schedrin, Moisey Weinberg, Alfred Schnittke, or Andrey Petrov, Tishchenko’s ballet gives you an idea of creative quest in the times that are history now, and is an excellent example of Russian music of the 1960s — 1980s. Moreover, Yaroslavna is one of the acmes of development of European art that are still able to captivate and convince the listener.
Konstantin Uchitel

The Third Symphony
of Boris Tishchenko consists of five movements. The first four are interlinked and form ‘Meditations’. The fifth movement, ‘Postscript’, is somewhat estranged, which may be explained by the idea to relieve the strain and drama of the preceding movements.
The first movement introduces the listener to the imagery of the symphony. Its melodic lines led by individual instruments in the orchestra are diatonic and laden with true Russian tunes, but it is sophisticated diatonics. Gradually, individual timbre lines are matched bringing the stress to the ultimate point, and at this moment, the composer instructs all the instruments in the orchestra to improvise on a group of preset notes to be played in a random rhythm and articulation for a strictly specified time.
The second movement is a new phase of development. The composer retains the main principle of development typical for the first movement. The manner of theme rendering becomes more harsh and impulsive. In this movement, an important role belongs to percussion represented by an ample set of instruments in the symphony, including unknown ones such as ‘ferro flescibile’ (a flexible steel flat bar looking like a saw. One performer makes sounds by striking it, while the second performer bends and unbends it from time to time.)
It is in the second movement that a culmination of a great dramatic impact is reached, resulting in a tragic outcome. The third movement of the symphony differs from the preceding narration in its musical language and style; it is perceived as a kind of response to what has happened, as its natural continuation. From the outset, a special mode is established, which is related to moans and complaints, and which is not interrupted or changed throughout the movement. The strings play glissando; imitating, more and more new voices join in, and the strings are enhanced first with brass, next with woodwinds, and finally with percussion and the piano that also performs a percussion function. The sound reaches its climax in joint improvisation of the entire orchestra. Suddenly, the improvisation is interrupted, and human voices, a soprano and a baritone sounding backstage, join the orchestra’s glissading instruments. Their joining is perceived as adding new colors to the orchestra, which creates the necessary timbre novelty of the texture, while the timbres convey the atmosphere of the drama, in the middle of which is Man, subtly and precisely.
The fourth movement of the symphony repeats the basic structure of the first movement and retains the same type of presentation, but in a slightly abridged format, as if reverting to the initial narration.
After the strained development, the complicated dramatic collisions are solved in the Postscript. The fifth movement starts with exposition of a completely new theme played by oboe. Its continuous recurrence to a stable sound, unhurried advance, and considerable extent relieve the emotional stress and serves as a summing–up for the symphonic drama.
Mikhail Bialik

Back to Top