About M.Tariverdiev organworks
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Mikael Tariverdiev (1931-1996), an ethnic Armenian was born in Tbilisi. Capital of Georgia. Still all his professional life, from the time he was admitted to Gnesins’ Music Academy, class of his countryman, the famous composer Aram Khachaturyan, and till he submitted his last score to Yermolova Theatre two months before his death, has been connected with Moscow. He passed away in Sochi on the Black sea shore where he went because he wanted to be at the seaside. He loved it, he was very good at every water sport, in he last year of his life a popular Moscow magazine named him as a sex-symbol of Russia, for years he was being lionized and had a reputation of a playboy, hosted a number of TV-programmes, was known to the whole country for his film-music. He never was an organist. But a philosopher he was and it is probably this that turned him to organ. His life philosophy is formulated in the title of his autobiographical book: I Simply Live. And probably because his music is primarily his life’s reflection, his way of cognizing himself and the universe it is not until 1985 that he turned to organ prompted by logic of this cognizance, by a new assessment of himself, of the world, of himself in the world, by a new approach to reality.
Though in his autobiography Mikael Tariverdiev confesses:
"Organ always attracted me. I learned to play organ in my student’s years. Aram Khachaturyan had a small organ in his class-room and whenever he was away from classes, which happened quite often, I used to stay alone there, composing, playing, improvising. In the last years organ has become my favorite instrument and I wrote a lot of organ music."
By the time Mikael Tariverdiev has produced his first organ concerto, Cassandra, he was more than a famous composer. He was a living legend particularly meaningful for the generations of the sixties and the seventies. In the early sixties, before his discs were published, the whole country knew his songs through home recordings on old X-ray photographs – "on skeletons" in the parlance of the period. Later his discs were selling in millions and millions copies. However, it was the film music – inimitable Tariverdiev’s music, instrumental and vocal but only what entered life via cinema or TV screens. Films with Tariverdiev’s scores still run on all TV channels. There are two films that play a special role: they are invariably shown on TV on the New Year and on the Victory Day, very special days for us all.
But then the beginning of Mikael Tariverdiev’s popularity should be attributed to two other events: in 1961 Man Follows the Sun has been released and made a revolution in the esthetics of the Soviet filmdom. The morning after the release of this musical film the composer Mikael Tariverdiev and the director Michail Kalik woke up as celebrities. The other event was the famous singer Zara Dolukhanova’s concert who sang vocal cycles of the young composer. Prof. V.Vasina-Grossman, a noted musicologist, refered to it as a new unique phenomenon – it is a whole new world of music, a new diction capable of expressing the subtlest nuances of complex and exquisite Russian poetry, the kind of poetry no other composer would ever think of blending with music. Primitive poetry never interested Mikael Tariverdiev.
I am living two lives, Mikael Tariverdiev keeps saying, one is my life in the cinema, the other – my own, where I produce music for myself. The apparent duality of the statement is actually one of basic principles of his creative work. Although he writes mostly "for himself" he does find acceptable the kind of music – art in general for this matter– that is unintelligible, that cannot be perceived by others. Music for him is always a means of communication, is a dialogue for which he has to create images that would put across the deeply human problems of love and death, of jealousy, of losses and nostalgia. His connection with film world that went on uninterrupted for about four decades is not only a tribute to the major attraction of the 20 century but a constant interface with life’s tangible problems, its energies, its ever changing facade and unchangeable eternal questions and unchangeable laws.
"Were Mozart to live in the 20 century he would certainly produce film scores", said Mikael Tariverdiev in a TV programme on Mozart in contradiction of his own statement of the two lives. He gained an immense lot out of his film work – wide experience of dealing with various orchestras, casts, musicians. Moreover, there was the necessity of keeping oneself within the limits of comprehensible intonation. He, the composer masterfully using the latest modern techniques from aleatory random structures to free jazz improvisation, from the most sophisticated polyphonic forms to popular songs – once on a bet he wrote a song that is being popular for almost half a century) was too well bred and aristocratic person to permit himself the kind of diction that would be above the level of the company present, so to speak. He would consider it bad manners. Quite unlike many modern composers who have monopolized the idea of "modern music" thus forever divorcing music from life both for themselves and for the public.
For Mikael Tariverdiev the two notions are practically inseparable. In Water Colours an early vocal cycle set on medieval Japanese poems, the composition that actually marked the emergence of Mikael Tariverdiev phenomenon, the composer not only established his aesthetic principle that henceforth he would adhere to whatever might be the genre, but declared an essenstial feature of it - the absolute clarity of the author’s identity or the presence of a musical hero identical to the author. The hero alias the author is living his life – in film music, in Japanese poetry or modern Russian poetry of Bella Akhmadulina or Andei Voznesensky, in operas and ballets, in instrumental pieces, in organ music. Pieces composed at different times, they are chapters of a big novel revealing the intimate world of one character who lives his own life never putting on other characters’ masks. What is created by the author is absolutely adequate to his inner life with no divergencies or deviations.
Author’ inner space removes the apparent dualism of different worlds. Actually for him they are not so much separate worlds as different spheres, levels, atmospheres – there is underground, there is noosphere, there is outer space. The hero’s life is not confined to any one level, it keeps fluctuating, moving horizontally as well as vertically. It doesn’t dig deep into the earth but strives upwards, to God. And the greater is the pain of the hero alias Author the further removed he is from the earth, the stronger is the nostalgia for proximity to God.
Almost from the very start Mikael Tariverdiev’s music is filled with the sense of completeness of every moment of his life, even of completeness of his whole life in its very beginning. Past, present and future are relative in this wholeness. A special way of sensing means a special way of creating; it is not composing but rather recording what is sensed.
Another essential quality of Mikael Tariverdiev’s music – whatever be the genre – is its emotiveness and concreteness of its inner plot. His is a direct action music, among other reasons because it is always a means of communication. Still there is always something mysterious about it, though this is the kind of mystery to which no clue exists.
Nevertheless, one could look for a clue to genesis, sources and development of the composer’s musical diction.
His earliest musical impressions are related to Tbilisi, the most important cultural center of Transcaucasia, the city that played colossal role in cultural life of the Russian Empire and later of the Soviet Union. Mikael Tariverdiev called Tbilisi a polyphonic city. Georgians are an artistic race, music seems to run in their bloodstream, Georgian music folklore is incredibly rich and the most complex polyphony is an intrinsic part of it. This is the base for Mikael Tariverdiev’s style where the natural gift for melody combines with bent for polyphony, fundamental linear thinking that can be seen even in his earliest works. Composer was never given to citing or using folk music, but his exquisite melodics, his free, improvisational approach to metre and rhythm to all probability come from his Georgian childhood.
As for the bent to Western classics is was evident from the very first musical impressions – Schubert, Bach, Mozart – as well as from the first steps in the class of composition that he began to attend in Tbilisi and later in Moscow in Aram Khachaturyan’s class.
Aram Khachaturyan was known for giving his students enough freedom to manifest their individual traits and it suited Mikael Tariverdiev’s rebellious temperament.
Mikael Tariverdiev regarded as his teachers not only Aram Khachaturyan but also Dmitry Shostakovich who taught him orchestration and Sergei Prokofiev. Prokofiev he only once met in person but his musical scores for Mikael Tariverdiev became a kind of a master-class, a special academy, a very special part of his studies.
Clandestine study of modern musical technologies – those were the times when serial music, aleatorica, New Vienna school were practically taboo for the Soviet students of music whose curriculum was to be limited to Russian and European classics – introduced into music of Mikael Tariverdiev a certain freedom of operating with dissonance and euphonia. He freely manipulates the sounding not avoiding neither dissonances nor purely classical speech. He liberates the classic formal structures in order to develop his own formal plot still depending on fundamentals of classical tradition such as repetition, recapitulation of material and modal system.
Each one of the great trio is close to him but each in his own way. He loves Khachturyan for his open and direct emotionality; Shostakovich – for the chamber intonation, the chamber diction traceable in whatever cast he employed. Prokofiev – for the richness of speech and the expressiveness of musical phrase which he invariably perceives as speech irrespective of the presence or absence of the verbal content.
For Mikael Tariverdiev the musical context of his time is not a set of available music technologies – it is the world of music, resonant and alive. He refuses to be tied up to any of the schools or techniques. Always free and independent he denies all borderlines between the academic and popular music, music for the selected few and the masses, music for the initiated and non- initiated, for the professionals and just lovers of music. Mikael Tariverdiev restores the integrality inherent in music. He addresses a human being with respect and confidence in his ability to perceive things. And he creates a world of his own defining his place as a strictly separated one. For him the present is not a sum of technologies but rather the reflection of contemporary world and man in this world with his eternal and day-to-day problems. As Boris Pokrovsky, the famous opera director who staged three Tariverdiev’s operas at Moscow Chamber Music Theatre said: Tariverdiev is a composer belonging to the past, the present and the future - meaning both his musical diction with its inimitable intonation and structure as well as efforts of his personality in time.
Mikael Tariverdiev never was a performing musician though he had an absolute mastery of all the keyed instruments and always played grand piano, harpsichord and celesta parts for sound-tracks of his films. And was an excellent improvisator. Many of his pieces were born on the spot during studio recordings. In the early sixties he fell in love with jazz but after a short-lived affair abandoned it for the rest of his life. Still jazz has left an impact and its echo rings in many of his compositions. Jazz grafting gave him absolute metric freedom, a feeling for instantaneous introspections within the evolving musical texture, continuity of development of material.
But even during his love affair with jazz he doesn’t part with what has become the fundamental feature of his style – with the artistical devices, intonations and forms of pre-classical period.
Mikael Tariverdiev turned to organ primarily as to a baroque instrument and to baroque forms of concerto, chorale preludes, organ Symphony which in essence, in content structure is nothing else but the Passions of the 20th century.
The first concerto for organ was written in 1984 in Sukhumi, a lovely city on the Black sea where Mikael Tariverdiev used to go for his summer holidays ever since he was a boy. The time of the day would be spent water-skiing and wind-serfing, the afternoons idled away in a bar over coffee and light local wine but at night he wrote music. A lot of music has been written in Sukhumi. Music born of his inner space and freedom of choice dictated by his own logic – not by circumstances or need.
1984 was a happy year for him. Loneliness and attempts to overcome it, yearning for the ideal and the ideal love that made the essence of his earlier music seemed to be now things of the past. That period ended with his mono-opera The Wait based on a poem by a well-known Russian poet Robert Rozhdestvensky. The heroine is a modern woman who is waiting for her date who doesn’t turn up so she is going trough the whole gamut of emotions. In a sense it has become an operatic finale of Mikael Tariverdiev’s long attachment to vocal cycles, to blending word and music.
He chanced to visit Pitsunda, a town on the Black sea shore famous for its relic pines and an organ installed in an old Armenian church turned into concert-hall. The organist was Lyudmila Gabria – young, talented and beautiful. Her masterly and temperamental performance has become the impulse he obviously needed to enter a new phase – the inner preparatory work was over so the concert at the church just triggered off the process. In a few days the first version of organ concert was ready. It had a working subtitle On Frescobaldi Theme. It was not that the composer meant to cite from a ready theme, what was important for him was the impulse, the image the device which he would then smelt, appropriate, make his own as he made his own the poetry which prompted him to compose music. In music he would follow the logic of his imagination, just appealing to the image of music and the train of thought of old masters turning them into characters of his own theatre of musical transformations.
Turning to old pre-classical music with its polyphony, its free harmony born of active life of polyphonic cobwebs, free form following the logic of thought development – this is what he always did no matter in what genre he used it. His partiality to pre-classical forms, texture, thematism has nothing to do with the styles that are usually considered as neo-classical.
In the 20th century many musicians felt the need to rethink, to transform or possibly even to return to the classical canons. Mikael Tariverdiev used classical modes in a way that is rather special, different from both neo-classisism of Prokofiev or Stravinsky and from what was done by Schnitke who abundantly used the themes and modes of baroque, classical and romantic music. If for Schnitke the form of, say, Concerto-grosso is a way of juxtaposing, causing a clash between two worlds of music, Tariverdiev simply makes that world of old music his own, he feels it like the world he lives in, speaks its language as his mother tongue – not as a foreign one.
The First Concerto for organ dedicated to Frescobaldi rather evokes an image of the past – which is the present too, creates a personage for a dialogue in order to overcome the gap of times.
Still the composer felt that something is lacking in the version subtitled as On Frescobaldi Theme. The point was that in this piece composer was searching for a new interface with his hero, his alter ego , or one may say, that it was the hero trying to express a new attitude to world, a changing perception of himself in the world. It seems that the hero is now less concentrating on his inner universe, the eternal questions of existence and not at all because they are loosing urgency for him. The reason is that he senses a terrible menace in the world, a foreboding of catastrophe capable of destroying everything – and wants to sound a warning to humanity. It is a growing feeling of a tragedy of such magnitude that nothing could survive. It is a different hero who speaks, or rather this hero speaks of different things and it is a new Mikael Tariverdiev.
Soon after his return from Sukhumi Mikael Tariverdiev visited Berlin where he made friends with Christophe Niesse, a remarkable German artist who took hid to his exhibition. Among other paintings there was a set called Cassandra. There have been many coincidences in Mikael Tariverdiev’s life and this was to be one of the more significant of them – he found the image he was subconsciously looking for, the final title for the concerto, the finishing touch he needed.
Mikael Tariverdiev loved by millions throughout the whole Soviet Union for the intimate lyricism of his intonation, the composer who way back in the sixties has blown up the notion of the obligatory Soviet "we" by boldly proclaiming in his vocal monologues the "I", insisting "this is the kind of tree I am, I am a different kind of tree", the man who fiercely fought to defend his right to say – I am the humanity, has now come out with a different statement: We are the humanity or The humanity of which I am a particle.
What seemed to be an incidental impression of Pitsunda concert has led him to the only instrument capable of to express his feelings and forebodings. Organ was to become his way of expression, the way of achieving his goal – not the goal in itself – an ideal ally in his struggle. Here he wanted pathos, sublimity, fullest emotional expressiveness of the sound as such.
In order to structure the space of We, the Humanity, he needed the most complex of musical mechanisms, the organ, the old masters because they strongly felt themselves to be particles of humanity, Cassandra, a sign personage, a code, a symbol. And still another thing: Cassandra became an ideal mask for the hero always avoiding any pathos before to appear onstage with this monologue which the First Concerto for Organ, op.91, is.
This is what Mikael Tariverdiev wrote before the first performance of Cassandra in the Bolshoi Hall of Moscow Conservatoire and in West Berlin.
"Last year I visited West Berlin where among other very interesting cultural events I saw the exhibition of paintings of a remarkable artist Christopher Niesse.
I was particularly impressed by a series of paintings under a general title Cassandra. Image of this heroine of classical tragedy warning us, today’s inhabitants of the planet, of the horrors of war threatening mankind acquired a special intensity in the painting of this West Berliner.
But if Cassandra of Hellenic times addressed her warning of peril to her countrymen today the peril threatens us all, the whole planet – the new disaster will leave no conquerors and no conquered.
I returned to Moscow feeling that I have to express my sensations through music. This is how Concerto for Organ emerged. I wanted to try to bring together elements of old music and music of our times in order to emphasize that this theme existed always.
Sometime ages ago a genius of a monk has invented gunpowder. But what was his idea? He wanted to facilitate construction of mountain tunnels, to cut short the distances, to build roads between people. Later other people used his wonderful invention into weapons to kill one another.
Wright brothers created airplane. The fairest dreams men dreamt of soaring into the sky and flying like birds came true, flying became reality but then the time has come when this fantastic invention turned into the most terrible weapon of the Second war showering death from heaven upon millions of innocent men and women.
Since times immemorial men looked at distant stars dreaming of them. Then Tsiolkovsky produces a rocket to overcome the law of gravity and search for our extra-terrestial brothers. And now mankind is in danger of star wars. Was this the aspiration of all the men of genius with kind hands and pure hearts?
Is not it time for us to stop?
Is not it time to stop turning the gifts of human greatness into ever more destructive weaponry?
This is the message of Chirtopher Niesse’s Cassandra paintings.
This is the message of my Cassandra Concerto."
It was written in 1985.Nobody could even think of warfare in Abkhazia, of hostilities in Karabakh, of bloodshed in Yugoslavia, in Chechnya, or the Gulf war. Mikael Tariverdiev seemed to have another one of his previsions, when he did seem to perceive things in the unity of the past, the present and the future.
If Cassandra is a warning, a foreknowledge of tragedy, Chernobyl is tragedy in making.
Here the Hero alias Author is not a participant, not even an observer but rather an instrument the sensibilities of which are registering this logical – or antilogical – cataclysm in mankind’s history prophesied before.
Cassandra is a concerto of four parts. They can be performed separately but the concept, the musical form suggests performing all four parts attacca (though there are no composer’s indications between the parts). The concerto is only 16 minutes long. No slow introduction, no repetitions. All is compressed and laconic.
Movement One. It is an oration before a crowd gathered in a temple or amphitheatre delivered the way ancient Greek actors spoke the lines of tragedy. And this is how the main theme of concerto should be treated. It appears at the very beginning, it is developing in the manner of a speech - and this how it should be played: in a forceful and accentuated way as if really delivered by an orator. The whole of Movement One is built on the logic of a public speech, the main theme is set off by changes into other moods, contrast between pathos and escape into inner states being the way of arresting public attention, controlling the crowd’s emotional reactions.
As a matter of fact, every Movement of Concerto is an emotional change from one state to another.
In the initial version the composer ends the Part on three forte. Later he makes a correction and offers just the opposite direction - three piano. But actually the change has a logic of its own: each performer is at liberty to choose a version in accordance with his/her temperament, with the feeling of how the mood of the Movement One should switch over to the mood of Movement Two named Aria by composer.
It starts with deep, low, hardly audible B continuing on for four bars. Sometimes the length of the note scares the performers, but the concert practice shows how expressive this transition could be, how – perhaps contrary to common logic – it helps listeners, and the performer too, to enter the lofty meditative state of mind, the inner space where the intimate fuses with the transcendental evoked by the Aria. The movement is typical for Tariverdiev’s style. What is manifested here is his unique gift of melody, the very core of his sense of music. The haunting melody soaring in imponderability totally removing barriers between the performer, listener and author. This is one of the most beautiful pages of all composer’s works. The melody develops freely, natural as breathing, then it emerges in its initial form in the highest part but the foot-key acquires a new deep supporting voice. Movement ends with the same long foot-key sound, as if melody appearing from eternity is disappearing into it once more.
The Third Movement marked as Inventio is a light pastorale with a hint of dancing steps. It bring in some other hue of life – a remembrance, a shadow of ideal world that was or perhaps still is – suddenly ending in a light chord on staccato. Idyll is shattered by finale’s pathos reintroducing the thematism and mode of expression of Movement One. Three forte in pedal, pathos of proclaiming, sharp seconds and oration again. Finale is the development of Movement One in still more concentrated form and without that inner contrast with other moods. Now the theme sound as if compressed in time. Here once again composer a choice between two endings: the first version in tutti, the second – in three piano. Composer gives the performer the freedom of option to register as well indicating only the nuances and tempoes, counting on expounder’s imagination for building the image of the Concerto. Admittedly, this goes for all Mikael Tariverdiev’s organ pieces – they contain few markers to point out the register precisely. But then so well defined and so obvious is Mikael Tariverdiev’s imagery that whoever can open the door into his world and find affinity to composer’s image-structure will gain through using his own sensibilities and solving registration problems in his own manner.
Actually, they aren’t registration problems but much rather the problems of searching out the images.
It so happened that almost on the eve of Cassandra’s performance in West Berlin to be followed by its performance in Moscow Conservatoire"s Bolshoy Hall Mikael Tariverdiev was asked to visit Chernobyl and give concerts for the teams working at the power station wrecked by the explosion of April 26, 1986.
This his own account of the journey.
"We are driving towards the station. Early autumn day, the foliage is turning gold and purple. Neatly whitewashed cottages, huge pumpkins abandoned in the kitchen-gardens of lovely rural houses. Some windows are open giving the impression of people being in their homes. Children’s toys forgotten on porches. All is quiet and there is something eerie about it. I am trying to understand what is so disturbing in these peaceful surroundings and suddenly it dawns on me – I can hear no birds. There are no birds anywhere. Sky is enormous and completely empty. Roadsides are covered by plastic sheets. Signboards: "Beware of Radioacivity".
Troop carriers are rushing from the opposite direction packed with men wearing protective masks. It looks like an episode straight out of The Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky’s chilling prescience film. Only this is not a film. This is reality.
The sky is dimming. Out of gathering dusk outline of the wrecked reactor is emerging, almost concealed by the newly built sarcophagus walls. Strangely enough there is no sense of danger. It is on our way back from the station that something in the air sounded a clear warning signal. The danger was there, only it is nowhere to be seen. It is dissolved in this warm and balmy autumn night.
We are stopped along with others for radioactivity check. The pointers go to the very extreme and the meter is ringing shrilly.
I was devastated by the impressions of the journey. It took me some time to realize how strong and lasting they were. I felt I became a part of the Zone. Don’t know why but what has happened in Chernobyl fused in my mind with the tragedy of American Challenger. Probably the reason was that the spaceship disaster has been the first American TV footage ever to be seen live on the Soviet screens. A new sensation has entered my life – the end of the world has come. Are you awaiting the rain of fire to fall on earth? Here it is. It is already raining.
I did not plan to write about Chernobyl. In the spring of 1987 the Symphony for organ came to me on its own. It suddenly was in me in all its completeness, as if I were simply a radio-set tuned in to some distant wave and it produced an echo in me.
There are two movements in the Symphony. The first movement is the Zone. The long-drawn fifth appears in the very beginning and imperceptible like radiation pervades the whole Symphony. These are my impressions, as to the concrete stuff, I think the notes contain enough of it.
I called the second movement Quo Vadis? It is a requiem, my memory’s tribute to those who at the cost of their lives have saved ours. But is it going to help us? Are we going to learn some lessons from it?
The Symphony did come to him as a revelation. As in many other instances he first played it in his recording studio, then transcribed on paper.
Mikael Tariverdiev never commented his scores. What is quoted here is all that he verbally said about the Symphony. He loathed verbal interpretations of music. So there are no other comments left by him. Still at rehearsals while explaining the logic of his images’ development composer had to give some interpretations of the music. So now I shall try to expand on the brief comments above.
If Cassandra is a warning, expression of feeling of pending disaster, Chernobyl is the disaster happening. Snapshot of the world at the moment of disaster. Dialogue of the heavenly and the earthly, voices of archangels from above and outcries of men below, their responses, their realization, their feelings and the shadows of the world as it was before this battle of life and death. The Hero alias Author is not even a part of the events but a mere instrument through the sensors of which is being perceived the logical ending of mankind’s history, foretold and warned against by the Prophets.
The Symphony is written in free form, defined as Romantic by classic musicology. The form is following the sense, the images, the emotions incredibly volatile, changing at every moment of music’s development. In a way, it is somewhat similar to cinematographic montage with its close-ups and panoramic shots, its quick shifts of plot and visual clarity of images when sounds create visual associations.
The Zone’s first chord becomes the leit-image, the leading image of the whole Symphony – the picture of hell on earth. Actually it isn’t even a chord it is an empty.
Fifth (quint) ending in tutti cutting through the space as God’s thunderbolt, hanging on and on like inevitability of retribution. Chromatic theme enters the high voices; like the empty fifth it is to reappear at all key moments of this narration. Because it is a narration, creation of a picture. Descending chromatisms – image of the tortured, suffering world against the background of incessant rumble of the fifth. What emerges is not only a polyphony of lines but of meanings and textures too. Long notes and intervals are not a part of harmony but colors painting the meaning.Every appearance of the empty fifth – appearing now as a hardly audible ghost, now very loud as in the beginning of the Movement – is invariably a sign, a constant of the world’ condition.
The first part ends in modulation of the fifth in G. It ushers in the new part marked by the author expressivo recitando. This is the voice from Heaven. It is an address, a call, in a sense is continues the monologue started in Cassandra. Thrice sounds the call from Heaven interrupted by the symbolic fifth. The last recitative call is drowned in the chaos of the crushing world. And here come the faint sounds of the past. Strange sonority of Con largezza are remindful of rural accordions that also drown in the heaving chaos of sounds. Pedal fifth in C is introducing the culmination of the first Movement where once again on tutti appears the fifth in E (fundamental tone of Symphony) and a version of the theme close to the initial one. This kind of recapitulation ends the first Movement.
The second Movement, the requiem Quo Vadis? starts as a sharp contrast. Clear texture, soft sounds, decima replaces the emptiness and facelessness of the fifth and heaving chromatisms. But the decima sounds as if frozen, as a slowed down film action – this is the pitch of suffering when it cannot be vocal any longer. The theme is soft lamento repeated again and again with new till the first logical accent when the empty fifth is heard in pedal. It releases emotions, opens them up. The first upsurge – when decima and the fifth merge:
New repetition of the theme with outcrops of new harsher intervals ends in "strange" clusters of accords as if hung in isolation – the author marked them with fermatas. And again the fundamental theme of requiem, theme of lamentation – the first culmination of the second Movement suddenly interrupted by strange emptiness followed by a new theme, mellow, soft and melodious which is stopped by passionately, almost pathetically rendered first theme. It is repeated once again and brings about another theme that may be described as heroic, or rather as the theme of heroic endeavors, with distinct connotations of Russian or Ukrainian melos. Mikael Tariverdiev used to refer to it as the Russian theme – theme of human endeavors in inhuman circumstances. It is developing till after accelerando mark the movement is plunged in chaos. Tempo – appearance of the symbolic fifth but distorted now by the seventh inside it. An echo of soft humane intonation is heard just for a moment – remindful of a face at random captured by a camera to disappear again in storm of elements – in the culmination of the whole Symphony, the fifth with the seventh resolve into pure empty fifth on tutti, theme of suffering and Inferno sets in. Culmination that goes on…or rather stops abruptly. This part is unified by the empty fifth that starts and ends it. It is the most expressive and mystical portion – Memento mori. Tutti disappears on the background of the still persisting fifth that acquires a dull incorporeal quality. After a few more measures the theme of suffering reappears, but now in a way suggestive of Revelation (21,4):
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, and death shall be no more, for former things have passed away.
The fifth sounds duller and duller. Melody in the top voice is repeated alternating longer and shorter versions with long rests that are to be kept as such. Souls are vanishing into Heaven. The fifth is replaced by the second, melody becomes briefer and briefer then it vanishes too. Symphony is ending in hardly audible cosmic murmur (swell 32 feet).
Cahiers Polyphonic, the Second Organ Concerto has been composed in the same year, in 1987. Here the composer strictly follows the canons of baroque concerto. Basso Ostinato, Fugue, Chorale, Toccata – the four parts recreate the polyphonic forms in thier classic purity. In this sense the concerto is in absolute keeping with its title. Still here too the baroque polyphonic forms are infused with modern diction though not at all in any neoclassical manner. For the composer the modern diction is his way of thinking, not playing with forms. The piece is a tribute to the classic organ tradition its recreation in pure form. He rather had to pay this tribute being so deeply involved in organ music. But then, having exhausted the pure form in his Second Concerto he never goes for this experiment again although it is not incidental that his organ period is completed by Ten Chorale Preludes called Imitating Old Masters – chorale, choral prelude is eminently suited for the intimate, lyrical, chamber intonation that has always been his, enables him to go into that state of his soul, that inner depth where he is alone with himself.
The composer treats choral not as a chorale prelude on a ready choral theme but as a mood, an image of music, a melody and a state of mind so well known to everybody, say, from Bach’s chorales. That this is for him the dominating idea of chorale could be illustrated by chorale from the Cahiers Polyphonic, from the Third Organ Concerto which is somewhat different from his other organ pieces. Ten chorales from the cycle of choral preludes are written in this manner too. He does not borrow the themes, he composes in the style of choral preludes inventively employing typical modes – melody, various chorale textures. His free chorales are rather choral preludes but held together by that exalted mood and meditativeness that one associates with a chorale.
Mikael Tariverdiev was a believer, as a mature man he joined the Armenian Apostolic Church but he never was an orthodox about his religion. One may say that his chorales are prayers said in his own words and manner.
Ten Chorales form a cycle though they can be performed separately. Still there is an inner logicality in their succession – from the two-voice First Prelude, the most chamber and pellucid one, till the ceremonial and festive Tenth with the deeply meditative Second, the lively Third written a la invencia, the pastoral Eighth, the improvisational Ninth echoing the Georgiam melos in between.
The Third Organ Concerto (op.93) is somewhat different from the rest of his organ music. Composed in 1987 initially as three organ pieces it was later turned into Concerto. In this work the composer went not for the forceful, powerful aspect of the instrument but rather for its chamber and ironical quality. The concerto is made of play of sounds, associations, allusions.
The First Movement – Reflections. Here the texture is clear, rather linear than classically polyphonic. Reflections of sharp intervals staccato in different registers, deep, sharply accentuated basso ironically commenting flippancy of prancing seconds. The author’s mark is misterioso but this mystery is jocular, the mystery of strange reflections.
The Second Movement – Movement. An ironical march that starting in one voice is developing as fugato is also strange, laconic since it end as suddenly as started. A strange and jocular ghost of a March.
The Third Movement – Chorale, a lyrical digression following the style of Tariverdiev’s chorale preludes.
Conecerto ends in The Walk in C- Major, a piece ironical both to C- Major and to the feeling of movement. The measure is changing from 4/4 to ? then to 5/4, everything is light, clear, laconic. There is an echo of the First Movement in coda. The Third Concerto is author’s inventive, witty and light leave-taking of the organ as if he wishes to relieve the pathos of planetary problems of Chernobyl and Cassandra by closing the sphere of the instrument made for this.
Master’s farewell joke.