"One of the most interesting pieces on the program was the song cycle “Steps” by Valentin Silvestrov and sung by soprano Elizaveta Kozlova. Silvestrov’s style has been likened to that of Philip Glass, and he is known for his contemporary classical compositions. Silvestrov is quoted as saying, “I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists.”
Kozlova had been introduced to Silvestrov’s compositions in 2021 and was intrigued by the music itself and equally so by the concept behind Silvestrov’s work. The concept Kozlova spoke of is that of silent music.
The piece is performed at one volume—mezzo piano. Silvestrov wrote economically, returning the listener to simplicity. “Steps” is not a published work, so Kozlova used Silvestrov’s hand-written manuscript, which she got from the only other singer to perform the work. That artist received the music from Silvestrov directly. The text speaks of the soul and includes the use of silent music.
Despite the rather esoteric idea, the music itself is completely accessible. The sparse harmony in the piano line places the entire focus on the singer. Kozlova used impassioned phrasing, vibrato that was natural and not overused and took her time, particularly during the silences. Silence can have differing effects; sometimes, it’s peaceful. But it can also be uncomfortable. With the soul as its theme, “Steps” uses silence for reflection. Yet, still, the silences were unnerving. Kozlova and collaborative pianist Chaplinskiy would stop. With his foot on the sustain pedal, the preceding note slipped into quietude." - Chris Ruel