The phenomenon of G. Ustvolskaya in Russian music is amazing... She has created her own, original composition system which, however, has grown on the yeast of new musical thinking of the 20th century... Her works have earned a just appraisal only decades after they were written. Apropos, I made a slip there: they have not yet earned the appraisal that they deserve.
Ustvolskaya’s music carries a strong and powerful fire... Ustvolskaya has no religious mysticism in the way that Messiaen has: she carves out the musical material with unheard‑of directness and accuracy as if from a lump of granite. There is no “fringe” to her work – with Ustvolskaya everything is “in short». The silence in her music is just as eloquent as it is in von Webern’s, but it is pointless to compare the two – Ustvolskaya’s music has an ethereal quality and mercilessness typical only of her; her terrifying logic lacks any emotionality.
Hardly anyone would allow themselves to give in to the temptation of speaking of the essence of Ustvolskaya’s music or simply to analyse its content... One has the impression that she has bewitched her music.
Ustvolskaya’s music … does not intend to match any social taste, quite the reverse, it takes it to unbearable tension and puts it on a par with a few other radical works of this century (John Cage’s Etudes Australes, Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Requiem for a Young Poet or Morton Feldman’s compositions come to mind).
If smoke rose up from the grand piano, no-one would be surprised… This music has a smell: searing music that raises the temperature.