Einzige Tage

Nine settings of German translations from Russian poems by Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak

forces: Soprano, Piano
duration: ca 43'00"
2010
published by: Composers Edition

Programme Note

The conception of this group of songs involved preliminary consideration of a much larger selection from the translated works of both (and other) poets. The result is a work which may be performed complete as an extended cycle, and which in that context might be thought of (pace William Blake) as ‘songs of experience’, with a form of implied narrative thread running from first to last. If the work is performed complete, the sequence herein should be preserved. However, individual songs or selections of songs may be made too, the only clear exception being the ninth and final song, which makes retrospective reference to certain of the foregoing settings, notably no.2 (the work in toto ends with a valedictory reference to this).

Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak were almost exactly contemporaneous, knew one another and each wrote a number of poems taking as their subject the nature of their relationship or a response to the other’s poetry, couched sometimes in ambivalent terms. Pasternak is alleged to have proposed to Akhmatova on three occasions, but was married twice and conducted affairs with a number of mistresses. Akhmatova, herself unhappily married three times, made little secret of detesting Pasternak’s second wife, yet appears to have regarded the bond between her and the other poet as essentially Platonic, a kind of attractive intermittent flirtation based upon mutual artistic recognition.

Programme Note

Reviews

The song-cycle Einzige Tage (2010) sets German-language poems by Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak. Alla Kravchuk, this time with Simon Phillips at the keyboard, brings drama and heartfelt expression to these harmonious, vivid and inviting settings.

Colin Anderson, Classical Ear, September 2015

This disc contains two rewarding and accessible works in what are surely definitive performances. Pott is a significant composer and it’s good to have these two fine examples of his recent work made widely available.

John Quinn, Musicweb International, July 2015

In his Viola Sonata of 2013 Pott proves himself a major talent, and he evinces a compelling fluency in his highly personal harmonic language. His affinity for extended lyricism is affecting not only for the viola’s ruminative tone and the rich, eloquent textures of his piano-writing, but also for the atmosphere, the sense of place in his evocations of the Isle of Man landscape, and the articulate, contrapuntal interplay of voices. The same may be said of his impressive [German language] settings of Akhmatova and Pasternak in the collection Einzige Tage of 2010, which have an immediacy, pathos and freshness. This is a CD well worth exploring.

Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone, November 2015

The song cycle sets poems of Pasternak and Akhmatova …in German translation, and forms a beautifully crafted addition to the romantic Lied tradition, with subtly incorporated nods to the great Russian song composers – bell sounds and sad, chromatic melodic contours – not excluding Shostakovich, whose DSCH motif is woven into the setting of a poem dedicated to him.

Records International, May 2015

Reviews