NEO reflects the use of classical forms in the 20th century – ‘neo classical’. It points to the future, and in music saw composers throwing off the romantic era’s excesses and striving for a new clarity and stability. However, the term NEO in this musical context shouldn’t always be seen as a case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’. The heritage of earlier romantic styles – Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov can be detected in the music by Scriabin, Prokofiev and Shostakovich on this album. In an uncertain and turbulent world, the old ways can be a comfort and provide a sense of stability.
Oda Voltersvik’s fascinating recital takes the listener on a journey from the beginning of the century opening with Scriabin’s early Fantasy which looks forward to his later style, while still glancing back to the romantic era. Likewise, Prokofiev’s 2nd sonata of 1912 stands on the cusp of his exposure to the latest modern trends in music and of course the Russian Revolution and First World War were looming. Shostakovich’s 2nd sonata is a masterpiece written during the height of World War 2. His struggle to create under the threat of Stalin’s repression is evident in this powerful and deeply personal work. Gubaidulina had come under criticism from the Soviet regime in the early 1960’s for writing ‘irresponsible’ music. Shostakovich supported her during this period. Her Chaconne harks back the baroque style.