Edison Denisov à Jean-Marie Londeix 25 octobre 1995
Thank you so much for your letter. I'm pleased that the Sonata (my first work for saxophone) that I wrote for you is now being played by saxophonists everywhere. You know quite well how much I like the saxophone (thanks to you!), and I hope to write several more works for this instrument that is so rich and expressive (I'm thinking right now of a "Sonata for Saxophone and Accordian" and a concerto for saxophone and orchestra).
The Armengand book is very good (in any case, it's authentic - I corrected all the tests). I'm not familiar with what Paul-Louis Simon wrote. What is it?
To answer your questions, I can tell you that my tastes change with the times. When I began my musical studies (at Tomsk [State University]), I liked Russian composers above all: Glinka, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Scriabin. During my studies at the Moscow Conservatory I was greatly influenced by Shostakovich (and I befriended him). After the conservatory I began the search for my own musical language and made several very important discoveries: Bartók, Stravinsky (his Russian period) and Schoenberg-Berg-Webern. I believe I learned a lot from my analyses of Bartók's quartets.
I can say that the composers who interest me that most now are, above all, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and Debussy. Among the Russians, my current preference is Mikhail Glinka (as Pushkin in Russian poetry [he is to Russian music as Pushkin is to Russian poetry?]). I think the first piece in which I found myself [with which I myself identified?] was "Soleil des Incas" (1864).
It's hard for me to choose between my "children", but I think that the works which are perhaps most dear to me are my opera "L'écume des jours" [The Simmering of Days], "Requiem", the song cycle "Ton image charmant" [Your charming image], the concertos for violin and for saxophone and orchestra and "Histoire de la vie et de la mort de notre Seigneur Jesus Christ" [The Story of the Life and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ]. In any case, these are the pieces that are most important to me.
There's practically no difference between the popular music of Siberia and that of any other region of Russia. It's all Russian popular music. There are several collections of Siberian songs (I have them in Moscow), but there are no discs [recordings?]. Your last question is quite appealing to me (I like jazz a great deal). They [my preferences?] are, above all, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Oscar Peterson.
I think, my friend, that it's best to consult my last catalogue [works list?] published by "Chant du Monde". Do you have it? I think you know that after the "Sonata" and "Deux pièces" [Two pieces?] (and, also, the "Concerto piccolo") I wrote the "Quintet for Four Saxophones and Piano" ("Leduc"), and "Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Cello" ("Billandot"). I want to write a true concerto for saxophone and orchestra and Claude Delangle is presently looking for a commission.
In deepest friendship.
p.s. I divide my life right now between the hospital and the house (I'm currently writing you from the hospital). In any case, I'm staying in Paries until the summer (my telephone: 47.07.07.84). My wife, Katia, speaks French quite well. E.D.
Translation by Alfredo Mendoza,William Street, and Jennie Wood, University of Alberta
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