This double CD, in a careful edition including a libretto, depicts an ambitious project of which famous composer Edward Artemiev has been a crucial part. It is the opera «Crime & Punishment» based on the famed novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Sung in Russian by a remarkable cast of singers, the lyrics of the pieces have been written by well-known movie maker Andrei Konchalovsky, by Mark Rozovsky, and by Jury Ryashentsev. The verses are J. Ryashentsev’s. The music, composed by Edward Artemiev, reflects not only the great talent by this artist but also his working skills to tackle such an exhausting project. The final result achieved by Artemiev lives up to all expectations. With his mastery to express with music what a novel or a script present in words, a mastery he has proved with his over 150 soundtracks, and with his peculiar style, where he can easily merge Electronic and Classical Music, Rock and other trends, Artemiev succeeds in re-creating Dostoevsky’s charismatic novel.
Valeriano Guiol («Aural Innovations»)
Opera comes with all sorts of preconceptions: large women breaking glass with their voices, too much vibrato, bombastic music. Edward Artemiev’s opera «Crime and Punishment» (based on the book by F. Dostoevsky), is none of those. This is modern opera that expands the parameters of the traditional opera into something new and approachable, with a style that appeals to a much wider audience. Artemiev combines styles with abandon, and the changing musical genres effectively propel the story and plot line. He uses traditional orchestra, Russian folk ensembles and rock band to convey the characters' moods and motivations — each is utilized to portray a different aspect of the story. Synthesizer figures prominently at times, which isn’t surprising given the composer’s background as one of Russia’s innovators in the field of electronic music. There are passages of lyric beauty, large choruses singing, gravelly vocals from the shadier characters, and although the libretto is in Russian, the emotion of the story comes through in the vocal stylings. The packaging is gorgeous — a digipac presentation with two booklets, one a libretto and one with notes and photos of those involved with the production (all in Russian). «Crime and Punishment» is a masterful work and a showcase of Artemiev’s genius, with a fresh approach to a traditional musical form.
Pam Thompson («Expose»)
Many musically-adventurous Western Europeans and North and South Americans have been made more familiar with certain worthy phalanges of avant-garde electronica and electroacoustic music through «Electroshock Records». Based in Moscow and run by Artemiy Artemiev, the label originated as a showcase for Artemiev’s own, mind-stimulating work (including personal favourites like «Cold» and «Five Mystery Tales of Asia»), but it soon expanded to include a series of releases gathering work from throughout the world on compilations as well as unique, single-artist albums.
One of the most popular of the latter was a selection of Artemiev’s father Edward’s famed soundtracks for three films by the late, great Andrei Tarkovsky. «Electroshock» is now preparing an English-annotated release of Edward’s second opera, «Crime and Punishment», based on Dostoevsky’s classic novel.
In the meantime, the album is available via mail order in an eight-sided, two-disc, two-booklet, luxury Russian-language edition. The opera is both highly accessible and unconventional in its combination of electronics, orchestras both classical and folkloric, and rock band («polystylistic» Edward calls it), shifting soundscape from carnival midway to full horn section to barrellhouse piano or head-banging rock-n-roll on a dime, while the singers are all passionate, expressive and seasoned. Even in Russian, Raskolnikov makes himself very clearly understood from the get-go.
Edward Artemiev was enlisted to score the ambitious stage show by director and co-librettist Andrei Konchalovsky, on whose films the former has previously worked.
The composer is furthermore the subject of a recent learned yet affectionate critical biography by Tatiana Yegorova, «Edward Artemiev’s Musical Universe».
In the meantime, Artemiy has regrettably not released any new music since the turn of the millenium, but is busy indeed as art, video and sound director at the private art gallery «Triumph» in Moscow, open only once a month for exclusive one-night shows for artists including the fascinating collective «AES+F».
Stephen Fruitman («Sonomu.net»)