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Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 

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The 20th-century musical life of the Soviet Union has been largely unknown to most of us in the West. For much of the first half of the century, we heard tales of prosecution and suppression, of enforced propogandist servitude to the Stalinist bureaucracy. During the cold war, it looked as if Russia had ceased to be a cradle of creative impulses and had simply become a nursery to piano prodigies. But in the past decade--and especially since glasnost--we've come to recognize the existence of gifted and eloquent Soviet composers, voices that have persevered and thrived under political surveillance. This sampler of recent chamber works by distinguished Soviet composers--part of a daylong event sponsored by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and American Women Composers Midwest--will spotlight some of those voices. Stille Musik (1979) and Moz-Art (1980) display the two sides--despairing and playful--of Alfred Schnittke, arguably the greatest Russian composer since Shostakovich. There are three expertly crafted and deeply spiritual contributions from the best of three generations of women composers: Symphony no. 5: Amen for narrator and mixed ensemble (1989) by Galina Ustvolskaya (born 1919), Quattro for brass quartet (1974) by Sofia Gubaldulina (born 1931), and Misterioso for string quartet (1980) by Elena Firsova (born 1950). Also on the program is maverick Soviet composer Edison Denisov's Clarinet Quintet (1987), reportedly a charmer. CSO clarinetist John Bruce Yeh is featured in two of the pieces. Saturday, 2 PM, Fullerton Hall, the Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan at Adams; 435-6666 or 435-8122.

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