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In 2001, I had a chance to talk to Evgeni Kostitsyn. At that time, he lived in Weed, in Northern California. This is a small village located among lakes and mineral springs, on the foothills of spectacular Mount Shasta. Mr. Kostitsyn was composing three American
Requiems - his own Ring of the Nibelungs.
The recording of American Requiem I made in 2002 is one of the best in my collection. Something mysterious is there. Every time I listen to this album I discover new meanings and enjoy new details that I overlooked previously. In two years, in 2004, I realize that his Requiem is a revelation. It has become more real to me than it was two years ago.
His knowledge of American history, music and poetry, the Koran and Catholic mass is amazing for a Russian immigrant who entered this country in 1999, seven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The key to understanding American Requiem I is the text known as "The Vision by President Lincoln". It was his last public speech and prophecy. Though the content of this speech has been silenced by our media for over 140 years, Mr. Kostitsyn found it and chose it as the foundation for American Requiem I. Thanks to Mr. Kostitsyn, we now know our own history better!
"The Vision by President Lincoln" greatly contrasts with the next movement - grotesque country jazz based on Bush's favorite song, "All My Exes Are From Texas", and 'barbershop' choir inspired by Bush's recent speech, "Islam Is Peace". I should mention that these two texts, unlike "The Vision by President Lincoln", have not been silenced by anyone.
There are a lot of counterpoint techniques used in American Requiem I, and some pages of this score touch me as deeply as the best works by Palestrina.
Mr. Kostitsyn calls his style "synchronous music", which is the parallel unfolding of two or more compositions, often written in different styles and tempi. One of the unique features of synchronous music is the possibility to play these parallel compositions together and separately. To demonstrate it, he recorded "Osama","Islam is Peace" and "Sanctus" twice: first in the context of the entire composition, and then separately.
Listening to the first five tracks of the album, which comprise American Requiem in its complete state, then to the last three, I experience the same joy as when perusing an expensive collection of pictures by Bosch or Picasso and, after viewing complete works, focusing on their the most beautiful details.
American Requiem is an impressive musical canvas with an abundance of colors and mastery. I am positive that, as more time passes, it will become obvious to many people that Evgeni Kostitsyn's American Requiem is a work of art that will outlive our times.
The lines from "silence" from COMPLETE POEMS:
1904-1962, by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage,
are used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Copyright © 1958, 1986, 1991
by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.