In the period from 1947–1988 Galina Ustvolskaya wrote six piano sonatas. These Sonatas are the laboratory of her spiritual quest: In them there is the combination of the creation of the universe and maximum personal deepening and confessing. Her work recalls discoveries in physics, showing that the macrocosm and microcosm are built to the same laws.
The First Sonata is vaguely similar in style to Shostakovich. The first and second movements of this sonata bring to mind Shostakovich's compositions from the 1920s, while the third movement is reminiscent of work he did in the 1970s. But the Second Sonata is different; its musical language is more sacred in nature. At about 18 minutes, the Third Sonata is the longest. In it, Ustvolskaya's style achieves its culmination. The Fourth Sonata is closest in form to a suite. There are echoes of the 12 Preludes (1953). Ustvolskaya wrote the Fifth Sonata in ten sections across a period of nearly thirty years. It has a "theme" running through it which consists of a single sound: that of the first octave. This sound keeps appearing, as if symbolising a kind of centre of the universe or of the keyboard, or of the human and divine spirit. The Sixth Sonata is the last and the shortest. In it, Ustvolskaya introduces new techniques to her music, involving playing the piano using the palms of the hands and the elbows.
Alexei Lubimov had the idea for a performance of all of Ustvolskaya's piano sonatas during a single concert while he was studying her music with his students: “A Moscow theatre, the School of Dramatic Art, gave us the use of its unusual ‘Globe Hall’ for this project. The hall is shaped like an octohedron, with three tiers of seating around a central empty space [...]. The acoustics of this cramped space concentrated sounds and carried them upwards. The audience was at the very centre of Ustvolskaya's sound laboratory and was able, quite literally, to be inside the instrument and inside its sound.”
Sound format: Stereo
Picture format: 16:9
Disk type: DVD 5
Country code: (0) PAL
Length: ca. 73 min
Production: Alexei Lubimov