Highways of Silence


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An audiovisual/multimedia marathon performance; curator: Michail Goleminov; performers: Angela Tosheva (piano); Michail Goleminov (piano, generative live electronics and visuals), Biliana Voutchkova (violin, vocals); Goethe-Institut, Sofia, 14 June 2018

Yet another challenge by the performers famous for promoting contemporary music piqued the interest of a numerous audience, this time at Goethe-Institut, Sofia. Highways of Silence multimedia marathon performance, given on 14 June 2018 opened a series of concerts united within the Piano Plus project, supposed to demonstrate the artistic and communicative capacities of the piano involving the instrument in different situations and interactive forms, underpinned (according to the announced concept) by the idea of conceiving music out of ‘silence’ in an empty acoustic space.


Goethe-Institut, Sofia has always created a hospitable environment for initiatives presenting contemporary works (I recall the series of Forum Neue Musik concerts of the 1990s staged in collaboration with the then active Society of New Music in Bulgaria). Last year, the Goethe-Institut launched a new programme of contemporary music, which opened with a live concert by Angela Tosheva and Michail Goleminov (21 April 2017) and including pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, György Ligeti, Pascal Dusapin, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luigi Nono.

Highways of Silence is an unusual, multicomponent form of presenting musical works, united by an innovative approach to the sound. The marathon performance of almost four hours included miscellaneous musical components of various genres, grouped in three parts.

The screening of the first ever art film of piano music made in this country, Thirteen Préludes by Claude Debussy (dir. Monica Yakimova)[1] presented a selection of 13 of the total of 24 préludes by the French impressionist in the ingenious interpretation of Angela Tosheva, combined with fine visual elements. Though made in Bulgaria Hall in 2012, on the occasion of the composer’s 150th anniversary, the pianist believes that the picture has had its real Bulgarian premiere then and there, though shown earlier by BNT 1 on the occasion of the centenary since Debussy’s death: due to the presences of the audience, the experience assumed quite a different dimension for the concentrated and focused attention in a hall, suitable for the purpose and using state-of-the-art equipment, is incomparable with listening and watching it fragmentally on the TV at home.

The respect in which Angela Tosheva amd Michail Goleminov hold André Boucourechliev’s (1925–1997) oeuvre and work showed in this project too. The pianist offered a masterly and intriguing rendition ‘here and now’ (adapted to the specifics of the instrument at Bulgaria Hall) of the complicated graphic score of the 6 Études d’Après Pinarese Piano. This open-form composition, offering a full scope to imagination and evoking a variety of associations, composed by André Boucourechliev in 1975, was inspired by the etchings of Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778). Piranesi’s prints screened during the performance contributed to a thorough understanding of the Carceri d’Invenzione by the Bulgarian-born composer.

Michail Goleminov made a strongly impactive and even going at times beyond the limitations of sensory perception multimedia performance of Gaspard de la nuit (1908), a brilliant suite of piano pieces by Maurice Ravel. Each part––Ondine, Le Gibet and Scarbo of Aloysius Bertrand’s prose poem, Gaspsrd de la nuit, on which Ravel’s suite is based––was projected and along with the visuals and the generative live electronics led the imagination to directions preset by the original musical text and built on through the skilfully used live electronics and multimedia.

Paying homage to the pioneering composer of musique concrete, we enjoyed yet another Michail Goleminov’s work, Die Suche nach den Wurzeln/Pierre Henry Denkmal. This 12-minute composition is an audiovisual photo collage of Pierre Henry’s pieces (1927 – 2017) with visuals and generative electroacoustic accompaniment in real time by software created exclusively for the event.


The finale of this large-scale event was the premiere of the improvisational Highways of Silence performance by Biliana Voutchkova (violin, vocals) and Michail Goleminov (generative live electronics and visuals), an exceptionally impactive intuitive composition combining flawless mastering of acoustic instruments with multimedia, generative live electronics, vocals, dancing shadows, achieved also through plasticity of the body and telling facial expressions. Expression comes into being by becoming one with the instrument, particularly easily on the face of it, beyond virtuosity. Extracting the maximum of the violin in terms of timbres and techniques (various strokes, technical devices) was subjected to the concept of this co-work of 40 minutes: a specific attitude towards sound realised as a spontaneous communication between the two brilliant improvisers, based on a fixed compositional structure.

Angela Tosheva, Biliana Voutchkova and Michail Goleminov succeeded once again in posing a challenge with their inventive ideas; in staging a special, unconventional concert/performance intended not just for connoisseurs of contemporary music, but also for wider audiences. Brought together, the artistic and creative vibes of the three erudite, brilliant instrumentalists, opened to experiments and various challenges, lived up to the expectations. The unusual, expanded form of a musical marathon, long, but not tedious with its complementary components, and highly impactive translated into a spontaneous and free communication at various levels.

[1] Thirteen Préludes by Claude Debussy received the top prize at Nicolai Ghiaurov Musical Film Festival, Velingrad 2014.


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Highways of Silence

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