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CR-149. Mikhail Kollontay. Agnus Dei
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CR-149. Mikhail Kollontay. Agnus Dei

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Weight: 120 g

The recording presented on the disk is the result of the creative union of outstanding musicians, composer Mikhail Kollontay, violinist Elena Denisova, conductor Alexei Kornienko, and Moscow State Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. Their names recently acquired great international fame and significance. Given the depth and seriousness of the tasks set by the composer in his work Mikhail Kollontay is one of the rare phenomena in the modern culture. His works represent maximum possible concentration of artistic consciousness on the most important problems of human existence and human history which composer sees as the interaction and interrelationship of the divine and human nature. His philosophical concepts are embodied in lively and concrete musical images while referring at the same time to the multi-layered cultural codes. A peculiar system of coordinates of the Kollontay's music world is based on the biblical stories as matrices of further history of mankind. The disc contains three pieces, Ten Caprices on Destroying of the Temple for violin solo îð. 34à (1994), Agnus Dei for violin and symphony orchestra îð. 48à (2001), and The Day of the Lord for symphony orchestra îð. 54 (2006, 2008). The main ideas that permeate the entire creative work of the composer are clearly presented in these three pieces. In the center of them lies a religious idea of the salvation of the human soul by God through incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of his Son - Jesus Christ - the Lamb of God. It was exactly the Lamb that the composer made the alpha and omega of his creative work. His reflections on the fate of human being and the future of mankind are associated with the image of the Lamb. The composer's creative method is above all characterized by the introduction of the several action plans, several dimensions of the deeds of human being, on a scale of the destiny of the individual person, of the nation, of the history of mankind, and of the superhuman history, that is eternity and eternal life. The composer shows the implications of a particular event, or rather, act, and how it is reflected in several layers of reality. Agnus Dei shows the time of the test of faith. It is based on example of the strength of the faith of Abraham, his willingness for the sake of God to sacrifice what is most dear to him - his son, and the divine gratitude received for this and extended to the whole mankind. The path to the salvation to the mankind is shown by associations with actions of another biblical character that arises in this work, through Moses. It is the road out of slavery and sufferings through sacrifice and redemption to a new life. The Lamb of God, that is Jesus Christ, appears as the central victim of the divine-human history. Jesus Christ shows to the mankind the way to resurrection. The Day of the Lord reveals another realm of ideas of the composer which is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is a theme of the end of human history presented in the religious literature as a phenomenon of the Last Judgment. This theme in recent years takes more and more important place in the works of Kollontay and acquires an incredibly timely meaning and value. While Agnus Dei points to the Savior as the atoning sacrifice and prevision of his First Coming according to the Old Testament in The Day of the Lord Jesus Christ appears not as a Lamb but as a Judge at the time of his Second Advent which for the mankind may become the End of the World. And the part of the mankind which did not appreciate the divine sacrifice and love will be subverted and annihilated. The work tells how God punishes and deprives human of the protection when human herself rejects the path to salvation. But it is not the pictures of the Lord's anger, the punishing arm of God and the destruction of the world that serve as the basis of a musical image. According to the author, it is "a painful waiting of a colossal crisis and of the end of all crises". One could hear in the music a warning about possible destruction of a civilization and weeping over its debris, prediction of the groans of the dying people, convulsive earthquakes and devastating vortices. The Day of the Lord sounds like a grief over a beautiful world created by God and presented for love and happiness but demolished by man who turned away from the Creator. It is not by chance that allusions and thematic connections with composer's favorite works of other authors of the past appear in the music, in particular, with the theme of the Tenth symphony by Gustav Mahler. Ten Caprices on Destroying of the Temple shows in much more details the wrath of God and how the mankind, by neglecting the Commandments of the Lord, comes to a dead end and awaits the tragic and senseless act of self-destruction. The composer expresses in The Caprices the attitude to the human body as the temple for the soul, for what is divine in human. At the same time he refers to one of the most acute pain points of the day. In a symbolic form he examines the events of the last few decades of our time. This is a reaction to the numerous disasters and catastrophes of recent years and an attempt to identify and understand the divine meaning of these phenomena hidden from the common consciousness. The attempt is made through multi-faceted relationship between micro- and macrocosm of human soul as the unit of measurement of all the processes on the earth. And then it spreads on social levels (city, church community, country) and to a transcendental output beyond the limits of earthly life. Ten Caprices build a complex system of spiritual analogies - body as human system, church as the body of Christ, city as a body without a soul. There is also whole "encyclopedia of sins" (demons that Jesus Christ drove from Mary Magdalene) and their consequences. At the same time this work serves as a reminder of how the connection between macro- and microcosm can be harmonized. It shows the consequences of neglect of eternal ways, defined in the sacred books, to tie earthly and divine. As aresult of a fundamental error of exception of communion with God from the scope of his priorities a man condemns himself to death, together with the world which he invented and built. At the same time the ninth caprice shows how, even in a most deplorable condition in which Mary Magdalene was before meeting Jesus Christ. Sincere appeal to God can regenerate human soul. Three works complement each other and in different ways narrate about the crisis conditions of the spirit, its causes and ways to overcome them. To the human created in the image and likeness of God, the divine love is given originally. The best examples can be seen in the lives of the saints. Salvation of the soul in the end depends on the attitude of man to the act of divine love, of the atonement of our sins by Lamb. The Love of God for man is not only the atonement of sins, but also the ideal pattern of earthly life which, according to the law formulated by Moses and updated by Jesus, should manifest the mercy of people to each other. Renunciation of faith and love is the cause of misery, the source of sin and crime which eventually leads to a dismal end of perdition of the soul, and in total can lead to the death of all mankind under the weight of their sins. Kollontay seeks the dramatic intensity of expression using a diverse uninhibited specific modern musical language. The amazing ingenuity and virtuosity in the choice of means of music often leads to the creation of some unique formulae of the hieroglyphic character. The emotional coloring and sincerity of expression as well as individual attitude to the themes chosen for his works characterize the creative features of the composer. He consciously dissociates himself from the techniques of traditional sacred music with its citations, associations and allusions. (This music has a different purpose, namely to complement and decorate the church actions or remind of them and depict them by music). Mikhail Kollontay makes use of the media of expression to create a complete and exhaustive musical self-sufficiency which emphasizes real and direct (and not distant-mediated) appeal to the events depicted in music. Musicians performing such works are facing difficult tasks. Performing such music requires not only extraordinary professional but also developed spiritual qualities. Not every musician would dare to perform Kollontays works. Elena Denisova and Alexei Kornienko were able to not just play these works but to convey the completeness of the content of the Kollontays texts to listeners. The accurate and versatile interpretation of the Kollontays works by Denisova and Kornienko is largely explained by the previous experience of their communication with the composer. Kollontay and Kornienko first met each other at the Moscow Conservatory where both musicians studied piano (Kollontay also studied composition there). Alexei Kornienko studied conducting in Kharkov. A few years later their joint performance of piano concerto was planned but it did not materialize. Shortly after Kornienko began collaboration with Kollontay as with the composer. Elena Denisova graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory where she studied violin. With her, Kollontay was able to implement many advanced ideas. Denisova became an irreplaceable performer of the composer's violin works due to her strong spiritual pivot, energy, phenomenal techniques, will and fearless attitude to new, unknown and complex creative tasks, wide musical erudition, experience and creative susceptibility. It looks like there are no insurmountable obstacles for her because she is distinguished by the ability to conquer the unknown. Denisova and Kollontay began their joint work with a performance of Violin sonata îð.14à. It was Alexei Kornienko who recommended Elena as a performer (by that time they became husband and wife). A phenomenal performing of three of The Six Biblical Sonatas (one of which is called The Lamb) followed shortly after that. Later on all the sonatas were recorded on the disc with the organist Jens E. Christensen (Kontrapunkt, E 10809) Kollontay's cycle of caprices grew out of Elena's ideas to gather in one disk caprices by different modern authors for violin solo (Talking Music, TalkM 1005). Partita Testament for violin solo (recorded on the compact-disc alongside the partita by Johann Sebastian Bach, EtCetera Records, ETC 1236) is another example of their cooperation. Alexei Kornienko performed Kollontay's First piano concerto. He constantly strives for professional and spiritual self-perfection. The musician gained extensive experience of the interpretation of composers of the last three centuries showing acute perception, inspiration and stylistic clarity as well as artistic consciousness of the most important problems of the day. In the end all these qualities allowed Kornienko to perform grandiose musical dramas, the works by Kollontay among them. After Denisova and Kornienko moved to Austria Kollontay, thanks to them, received incentives and commission to compose many of his works. Thus appeared and were performed Ten Words of Mussorgsky on the Victor Gartman's Death for piano trio, new edition of the Alexander Dargomyzhsky's opera The Stone Guest, Cadenza to the Violin Concerto by Beethoven. Thanks to Elena, the above-mentioned Ten Caprices were formed in a single project. It is quite understandable that Kollontay dedicated his violin concerto Agnus Dei to Elena and her husband, Alexei Kornienko. In many respects thanks to Elena and Alexei grandiose Day of the Lord was composed as well as the oratorio The House of the Lord (not performed yet). For the musicians the divine love that is concentrated in the image of the Lamb was not an abstraction but a landmark for the activity and for the whole of our life on earth. It was not by chance that the following lines appeared in a letter to Alexei Kornienko: "The victim which is mentioned in the Bible and which I meditate about in the Agnus Dei is a sacrifice of love. Marriage is a visible image of love that, in the end, is sacrificial". Irina Ivanova

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