Emil TABAKOV (b.1947)
Complete Symphonies - Volume 4
Double Bass Concerto (1975) [20:42]
Symphony No.5 (2000) [54:00]
Entcho Radoukanov (double bass)
Symphony Orchestra of Bulgarian National Radio/Emil Tabakov
rec. Sofia, 1982 (concerto); 2011
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0530 [74:43]
Emil Tabakov is a Bulgarian composer-conductor who tends to focus
his creative work during the summer months. Otherwise he is much taken
up with the musical orchestral life of Sofia and its orchestras. Born
in Ruse in Northern Bulgaria, his international career received a fillip
when he won the Copenhagen-based Nikolai Malko Young Conductors' Competition in 1977. His instrument
is the double bass for which his professor was Todor Toshev. The present
Toccata disc (the fourth so far vol. 1 vol. 2 vol. 3 ) includes his Concerto for that instrument. In addition to
the Double Bass Concerto, here played by Entcho Radoukanov, there are
also quite a few works for the double bass in his chamber music catalogue.
Tabakov has written ten symphonies and these fell between the ages of
35 (1982) and 70 (2017). There are also concertos for percussion, two flutes, piano, cello and viola. His composition
Marin Goleminov . This, presumably authoritative series of recordings,
is in part supported by Bulgarian National Radio who appear to have
supplied the recordings.
The 20 minute Concerto is in three movements: Allegro, Lento and Vivace. The first of these is couched in
language of thunderous determination and soulfulness. It has ruthless and
colourful kinetic ways. You will likely find this work appealing if you
subscribe to the cello concertos by Shostakovich and Kabalevsky. The
recording is stunningly good and is a good gauge of music that seethes with
conflict and victory. It's all carefully coloured and balanced. There's a
mystically crooning, oh-so-quiet Lento with the solo instrument
played up high in its register. Also memorable are some shuddering thuds
and eldritch moaning. This is by no means a concerto of trivial display or
troubadour serenades. Instead it has something of a symphonic mood. Every
moment either articulates urgency or decisive action. It boils at the end
towards a whooping yet oddly strangulated call.
The Fifth Symphony, from the year most people took as the launch of the new
millennium, is a mammoth work of four movements and 54 minutes. Not once
does Tabakov allow anyone to believe that he is tackling anything other
than momentous issues. The music whirls around in excoriating turmoil.
After 17 minutes of such rampant fury comes a surprisingly short Largo. This is almost Holstian in its desolation - perhaps a touch
of Egdon Heath and otherwise redolent of the quiet tension at the
start of Rite of Spring. After the devastation of that opening Spiritoso (a term which does not really do justice the assaults
that clamour away at the listener) it has the feeling of re-setting a huge
mechanism. Next comes a squealing and hiccoughing, Prokofiev-like Allegro moderato which is gawky and not at all epic. This. The
finale is dominated by a tetchy and edgy motif (pretty much immanent across
the movementís 16 minutes) which is forward-moving and aggressively
The sound on this disc takes you by the lapel and leaves no room to allow
your concentration to slip out of focus. Itís belligerent and very much in
scale with Tabakov's thunder whether rumbling quietly or shouting fit to
deafen. It hammers at you, monolithic and brutalist, like a hybrid of
Imants Kalnins Symphony No. 4 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 7.
The notes are only in English and are by Paul Conway. This writer is
already well established as a gifted commentator on music of British
composers, especially focused on activity from the end of the Second World
War. They run to eight well thought-out pages.
Takes you by the lapel and leaves no room to allow your concentration to
slip out of focus.