Sofia Gubaidulina’s “intense, dramatic” In Tempus Praesens is this recording’s centerpiece, said Andy Gill in the London Independent. The Russian composer’s concerto, “effectively a William Blake painting brought to life,” is expertly performed by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. In this journey from darkness to light, throughout which heaven and hell seem to be “battling for one’s soul,” the music swells and sinks “before finally floating free of its earthly restraints.” Gubaidulina strives for urgency and “immediate impact,” said Arnold Whittall in Gramophone. The work’s “strategies for playing off heights against depths, lament against affirmation, are very powerfully realized” thanks to Mutter, who served as Gubaidulina’s muse for this piece. If only Mutter would have paired this piece with the composer’s other major work, Offertorium. Instead the album is padded out with two “neat, tidy” Bach concertos that add little. Gubaidulina is certainly the main course, but Bach makes a tasty “hors d’oeuvre,” said Geoff Brown in the London Times. With a violinist “so sturdy in tone, intense in emotion, and steely in technique,” the entire album proves a musical feast.
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