The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Avet Terterian 

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Right now I am listening for the first time to a piece by the Armenian composer Avet Terterian. On the strength of the first few minutes of his 8th Symphony he's shaping up to be my favourite recent discovery.

The 8th Symphony was composed in 1989 for orchestra, 2 sopranos and tape and is heavily indebted (as I understand much of Terterian's work was) to so-called Polish 'sonorists' (Penderecki, Szalonek, Serocki and so on). But what's striking initially is that for all but the odd lone individual in Poland (namely Szalonek), sonorism died a pretty quick death after its emergence in the late 1950s. To hear it so clearly in a work of the late 1980s is unusual. Terterian's work has absorbed the impulse shared by so many works from 1980s Central and Eastern Europe (see pieces by Górecki, Pärt, Kancheli, Gubaydulina and so on) to move towards a lush, but critically cool soundworld, but this symphony remains uncompromising in its discordance. I'm absolutely loving this. If you haven't heard any Terterian, I'd advise clicking on the link above and making your way to the audio section of the site. All 8 symphonies are there, although most are in single files, so be prepared to spend a lot of time downloading.

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