Louth Contemporary Music LCMS1202
Music by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Sofia Gubaidulina, Alexander Knaifel, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
Compact Disc (Audio)

Audiophile Audition
Some new and unusual music for multiple cellos is worth exploring.

Published on January 10, 2014

“Metamorphoses” = DMITRI YANOV-YANOVSKY: Viderunt Omnes; FRANGHIZ ALI-ZADEH: Shystar Metamorphoses; SOFIA GUBAIDULINA: On the Edge of the Abyss; Mirage: The Dancing Sun; ALEXANDER KNAIFEL: O Comforter; – Celli Monighetti – Louth Contemporary Music Society LCMS1202, 58:06 [Distr. by Allegro] (9/10/2013) ***1/2:

Cellist Ivan Monighetti formed the cello octet Celli Monighetti while teaching in Switzerland and this very accomplished group is made of current and former students. Another product of Monighetti’s days at the Basle Conservatory is some connections he made with Russian and Baltic composers, such as those represented on this disc. I had to do some research because the only composer I was already acquainted with is Gubaidulina. Much credit is due to Martin Adams, however, for his extremely useful booklet notes.

Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s Viderunt omnes for eight cellos is a fairly startling but catchy arrangement of the work by 13th century French polyphonist, Pérotin, of the same title. Perotin’s original melody is present but the texture is thick and modern- sounding, including the addition of two Celtic percussionists. Yanov-Yanovsky has collaborated with the esteemed Silk Road Ensemble and the Kronos Quartet among many others and has played and written many works that tend to re-express old works and older forms. This particular octet is fascinating and great fun to listen to.

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is an Azerbaijani composer whose music is often reflective of the traditional music from her country: “mugham”. The Shyshtar Variations for eight cellos certainly sounds middle-eastern with a great deal of modal feel. Mugham is apparently a spiritual form of music and this work reflects its tendency to grow in intensity towards a dramatic conclusion. This piece makes for strong listening.  I was impressed, this being my first exposure to her music.

Alexander Knaifel was a cello student of Rostropovich but he has concentrated on composition these past several years.  O, Comforter is a relatively short work; an arrangement of a piece originally for choir. This piece reminded me a bit of the work of Arvo Paart in its kind of beautiful “pseudo-minimalist” simplicity and it is, truly, a simple, beautiful, meditative work whose communication depends not on vast technique but on tone and phrasing.

There are two works here by Sofia Gubaidulina, the most well-known composer represented here. Gubaidulina is from the Tatar region of Russia and has written a number of works for cello and cello ensembles in recent years. Mirage: The Dancing Sunis actually a pretty kinetic work requiring the eight cellists to have excellent command over the upper register and ample bowing capacity. This is a ‘shimmering’ work with wonderful harmonies. Her On the Edge of the Abyss is a very different matter. Written for seven cellos and two “waterphones.”  A comment on the latter is needed. The waterphone is an instrument invented by Richard Waters and uses a small resonator bowl, filled at least partially with water and surrounded by some metal rods that are struck with mallets. The resulting sound is ethereal and other- worldly and has been used in movie scores and various percussion works. On the Edge of the Abyss takes its title from the gap between the cello strings and the fingerboard, where a skilled player can produce some very fine but eerie pizzicato effects. The waterphones contribute some very bizarre glissandi to the overall texture. This work is arguably the most abstract work in this collection but has a kind of “horror movie soundtrack” feel that I admired (although the inclusion of quotes from the Dies Irae to convey the underworld, etc. has been done before.)

Celli Monighetti is a very skilled and unique ensemble and this collection of music is certainly unusual. I think that lovers of somewhat obscure contemporary classical music would like this a great deal. I think cellists should explore these pieces for both the music but also for the pretty impressive demands places on the ensemble.

—Daniel Coombs

Celli Monighetti *****
Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s intricate fantasy on a 12th-century French motet, Perotin’s “Viderunt Omnes”, opens a remarkable programme of contemporary music for cellos and percussion. Formed in Basle in 2002, Celli Monighetti demonstrate an extraordinary range of techniques and timbres that run from viol-like purity to synthetic intensity. We also get Franghix Ali-Zadeh’s blend of Easter and Western conventions, “Shyshtar Metamorphoses”.

Anna Picard. The Independent

Celli Monighetti LCMS 1202 ****
This CD stems from a concert given last October in Drogheda by Eamonn Quinn’s enterprising Louth Contemporary Music Society. Celli Monighetti explore the textures and colours of a cello octet in works by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky (whose LCMS commission, Viderunt Omnes, re-envisions the medieval world of Perotin as a kind of seraphic dance, with fluctuating backgrounds and delicate percussion); Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (whose Shyshtar Metamorphoses is full of impassioned intertwining); Sofia Gubaidulina (who adds otherworldly waterphones to cello sextet and solo cello in On the Edge of the Abyss, and combines low calm and high flickering with imploring solos and explosive interludes in Mirage: The Dancing Sun); and Alexander Knaifel (whose short, slow doleful chorale, O, Comforter, adds up to more than the sum of its parts). First-rate performances.
Michael Dervan The Irish Times

The Louth Contemporary Music Society has done it again. They’ve produced another excellent CD of Slavic and Central Asian music, fitting squarely into their already established corporate identity, yet filled with surprises. Each of the composers featured here has already been introduced on previous LCMS releases, but the music each of them provides for this one fully justifies a further showcase of their work…..
This one is highly recommended.
Gavin Dixon Classical Cd Reviews

Press Release
Celli Monighetti: Chisaki Kito, Ivan Monighetti, Kian Soltani,  Gunta Abele, Marcis Kuplais, Astrig Siranossian, Mattieu Gutbub, Ileana Waldenmayer
New pieces for cello octet by four composers from the former Soviet bloc – Sofia Gubaidulina, originally from the Tatar Republic, Russian Alexander Knaifel, Uzbekistani Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky and Franghiz Ali-Zadeh from Azerbaijan – feature on a new disc by the cellist Ivan Monighetti and his group Celli Monighetti. It’s the fourth CD on the Irish label developed by Louth Contemporary Music Society, and was recorded in St Peter’s Church in Drogheda, Ireland in October 2011.

The cello octet Celli Monighetti was founded by the Russian cellist in 2002 from his current and former students at Basle Academy of Music. All the members of Celli Monighetti are prizewinners of international competitions. The group has performed at international festivals such as Schleswig Holstein in Germany, Viva Cello in Switzerland, Madrid Festival in Spain, Viana de Castello festival in Portugal. Collaborating with great living composers such as Gubaidulina, Knaifel and Yanov-Yanovsky is an essential part of Celli Monighetti’s vision and an endless source of the inspiration.

The CD takes its title from Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s work Shyshtar Metamorphoses. However, metamorphoses also refers to one of the oldest concepts in human creativity; and all five pieces relate to that concept at varying levels and in various ways – some of them profoundly so.

The concept of metamorphosis is especially congruent with the first piece on the disc, Perotin’s Viderunt Omnes for eight cellos (doubling percussion) by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky. The second of his three commissions from Louth Contemporary Music Society, this 2011 work is based upon one of the best-known pieces by one of the foundational composers of Western music, Pérotin or Perotinus.

Ali-Zadeh’s Shyshtar Metamorphoses (2002/03) unites elements of the traditional high-art music of Azerbaijan, Mugham, and Western compositional techniques. Variation and development are combined with a harmonic and melodic language which, to European ears, tends to sound middle-eastern. The cello version of Alexander Knaifel’s serene O Comforter (originally a 1995 choral prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit) is written for a “choir of cellos” – a direction consistent with the composer’s concept that much of his instrumental music is, in essence, vocal.

Sofia Gubaidulina is represented here by two works, On the Edge of the Abyss and Mirage: the Dancing Sun, both dating from 2002. The former, for seven cellos and two waterphones, epitomises why she has acquired a reputation as an innovative thinker with a profound aural imagination. The abyss of the title is the zone between the finger-board and the bridge, an area of the cello that is used in a precisely targeted way in this work. The range of material of Mirage – the starting point for the work was a dancing image of the sun viewed by the composer while walking in the fields one day – is extraordinarily diverse for a piece lasting around 13 minutes; the shimmering music seems in perpetual motion.

Ivan Monighetti, born in 1944, was Mstislav Rostropovich’s last student at the Moscow Conservatory. He has collaborated with many leading contemporary composers such as Penderecki, Xenakis, Dutilleux, Schnittke, Tan Dun, Gubaidulina, Knaifel and Silvestrov. He is founding director of the Moscow Early Music festival, Professor of cello at the Basle Academy of Music, and has recorded widely (repertoire ranging from Bach and Haydn to Boris Tishchenko and Tigran Mansurian) for different labels, including Orfeo, Berlin Classics, Wergo, DUX and ECM New Series.

Metamorphoses follows three previous discs released by Irish concert promoters, Louth Contemporary Music Society, each extremely well-received. A Place Between (LCMS901), Path(LCMS1001) and Night Music (LCMS1201) likewise featured premiere recordings, by composers such as Sir John Tavener, Henryk Górecki, John Cage, Arvo Pärt, Alexander Knaifel, Valentin Silvestrov, Sofia Gubaidulina and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky.


1. Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky (1963- ): Viderunt Omnes, for eight cellos (doubling percussion)

2. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (1947- ): Shyshtar Metamorphoses, for eight cellos

3. Sofia Gubaidulina (1931- ): On the Edge of the Abyss, for seven cellos and two waterphones

4. Alexander Knaifel (1942- ): O,Comforter, for eight cellos

5. Sofia Gubaidulina(1931- ): Mirage: The Dancing Sun, for eight cellos

Total time: 58.22

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