Sofia Gubaidulina, Repentance

Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Repentance

Najette Abouelhadi, cello
Nathan Cornelius, James Keretses, Isaac Greene, guitars
Yoshiaki Horiguchi, bass

Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol’, in what was then the Tatar Republic within the Soviet Union. She studied at the conservatories of Kazan’ (capital of the Tatar Republic) and Moscow and built a successful career as a composer in Russia before moving to Germany after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As is common in her music, Repentance juxtaposes diverse and contrasting blocks of material, whether Eastern versus Western elements, serenity versus activity, or consonance versus dissonance. The defining feature of this work is stark contrast, even conflict, between areas of dense and noisy micropolyphony, chorale-like major triads, and insistent repetition of a single note. In the composer’s words, “The constant endeavor to penetrate the mysterious consonance in the guitars’ chords of harmonics is forever proving itself to be fruitless. And thus we always have to return to the darker shades.” Her manipulation of extreme contrasts and novel sounds creates a highly varied musical texture and immersive atmosphere.

This piece exists in three versions. The original version, titled Ravvedimento (Italian for “repentance”) and premiered by Ivan Monighetti in 2007, was scored for cello and guitar quartet. That same year she made an arrangement, called Pentimento, for bass and three guitars In 2009, Gubaidulina replaced one of the guitars of Ravvedimento with double bass, titling this version Repentance. The addition of the bass allows Gubaidulina the opportunity to deepen the sonorities of the plucked instruments as well as to create a dialogue between two bowed instruments. Meanwhile, the guitarists employ bottleneck slides (often found in blues styles) and bouncy rubber balls to create striking and unusual textures.

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