With access to unpublished manuscripts not previously performed by western orchestras, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and its Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, have received critical acclaim for bringing to life a series of forgotten orchestral masterpieces from former Soviet countries.
Karabits and the BSO present Voices from the East in a series of recordings for the Chandos record label and in concert.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 so did the channel of distribution for its contemporary classical music. Karabits, the son of Ukrainian composer Ivan Karabits (1945-2002), has made it his mission to source the orchestral gems that fell between the cracks.
Voices from the East so far features music from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine by composers Boris Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968), Avet Terterian (1929-1994), and Kara Karayev (1918-1982). In its 2019/20 season, the Orchestra scheduled music by Turkmenistani composer Chary Nurymov (1940-1993).
In a region spanning north-west of China in the east to Europe in the west, the unique roots of this music fuses into the Western symphonic tradition. Divided by dramatic mountainous regions and steppes, these works feature folk, sacred and secular elements of the distinct and fascinating countries, many of which were formerly of the Soviet Union. The region’s local composers — who were inspired in part by key figures of the period, including, Shostakovich, Khachaturian and Prokofiev — left us with brilliant examples of musical fusion between the traditions of their countries and the modern symphonic approach.
The BSO continues a long association with the region: its former Principal Conductor, Constantin Silvestri, famously found sanctuary on the South Coast during his tenure until his untimely death in 1969. The Romanian conductor and composer brought the BSO to international attention, developing a sound that continues to this day. Russian conductors Rudolf Barshai and Yakov Kreizberg later took on the role in the 1980s and 90s.
With Karabits’ unique personal insight and access to this music he now brings these manuscripts back to life with an Orchestra that has an understanding and affinity for this repertoire.
“This is music with deep meaning, it searches for identity and beauty and is all wrapped up within a musical language that fuses east and west. These are absolute orchestral masterpieces that deserve to be known.” Kirill Karabits
Listen to the Voices from the East recordings on Spotify:
Kirill spoke to the Observer about Azerbaijani composer and ‘Voice from the East’, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, for International Women’s Day.
Kirill talks to The Times about Lyatoshynsky’s Third Symphony.