Directly back to the "all-unopened-all-unheard piles of music" posts we go. This time it's another Toccata Classics recording, the offering being the music of the young (born in 1981) Estonian composer Mihkel Kerem. I know nothing about Kerem, in fact I'm pretty sure that when I bought this in 2013 what caught my eye was the mention of Shostakovich and Tishchenko in the blurb on the back cover of the cd. Plus it's a Toccata release; I'd be more than happy to own their entire catalog sight unseen (unheard)!!
In the booklet notes, Mihkel Kerem has this to say about his third symphony: "I found it very difficult to start the work: I could not find the right musical language to put the "story" across. In the end I realised that the only way to describe what I wanted to say was to use the musical style of Dmitri Shostakovich."
By the "story" Kerem means Communism itself and the unfathomable suffering that it brought, and the motivation for such being the reading of Shostakovich's memoirs "Testimony". "Testimony" was Published in 1979 by musicologist Solomon Volkov who claimed that Shostakovich dictated all of the material to him in a series of meetings between 1971 and 1974. (There have always been some questions concerning the authenticity of the memoirs, as some material apparently predates the book, such as quotes that are recorded/dated many years or decades earlier; and some people believe Volkov fabricated certain events. Meanwhile those who knew Shostakovich well said the memoirs were accurate..while others who also knew him well said the opposite(!). Personally I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle; it's likely that Volkov did a good deal of editing-without getting Shostakovich's approval. All the same "Testimony" is a powerful and important document that should be read by anyone interested in Shostakovich).
I can tell you that Kerem clearly knows his DSCH, and although I'm only halfway into the first movement, it's actually more enjoyable and less derivative than I expected (Kerem's notes did leave preconceptions on my brain, after all). I'm excited for the rest of this disc indeed! I hope everyone enjoys it as well..