In celebration of the Latvian composer’s 75th birthday
The beauty that the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks evokes in his works would not be possible without the experience of violence and cruelty in this world. He grew up in a country deprived of liberty, and because of his faith and his artistic convictions he was subjected to reprisals from Russian cultural doctrine. His father, a Baptist pastor, was considered an “enemy of the state”, and Vasks’ homeland was under Soviet control. As a result, the composer developed a vision of freedom and subtle protest in his music. In the so-called “singing revolution”, the countries of the Baltic region with their traditional love of choral music initiated their independence from Soviet rule. Vasks’ expressive, direct and often deliberately simple music quickly became the mouthpiece of the long-suppressed Latvian people, giving the nation a proud voice that can be heard worldwide. Today, alongside Arvo Pärt and Erkki-Sven Tüür, Pēteris Vasks is one of the most famous composers from the Baltic states of the former Soviet Union. – On April 16, 2021, the music world will celebrate his 75th birthday.
All the works on this CD are written for string orchestra: the three connected compositions Musica serena (2015, dedicated to the Finnish conductor Juha Kangas), Musica dolorosa (1983) and Musica appassionata (2002), and also Vasks’ Concerto No 2 for Violoncello and Strings, also known as Klātbūtne (Presence, 2011/2012). Vasks’ three instrumental pieces here are light-hearted, tragic (dealing with the death of his sister as well as the political situation in Latvia at the time), and passionate, and they provide an overview of the sheer diversity of his work across a timespan of almost three decades. His deeply spiritual Cello Concerto, which was premiered by Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and conducted by Candida Thompson in Ghent, refers in its title to the pure being of his music – which is present, without distance, in every movement of the bow.
The Münchner Rundfunkorchester plays under its principal conductor Ivan Repušić, and the soloist is Uladzimir Sinkevich, principal cellist of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester since 2011. The lullaby with folk music echoes that can be heard in the slow movement of the Cello Concerto, sung by Sol Gabetta herself at the premiere, is here performed by the soprano Anna-Maria Palii, a member of the Bavarian Radio Chorus since 2016.
The recordings were made in Munich in June and October/November 2020 in compliance with the distance and hygiene rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production was possible thanks to the selected works having been scored for chamber strings – and thanks also to proper spacing between the musicians, structural and functional precautions such as glass partitions, and separate microphones in Studio 1 at the BR.
01 Musica serena for string orchestra
02 Musica dolorosa for string orchestra
03 Musica appassionata for string orchestra
Concerto no.2 Klātbūtne for violoncello and string orchestra
04 Cadenza I. Adagio
05 I Andante cantabile
06 II Allegro marcato
07 Cadenza II. Andante
08 III Adagio*
Uladzimir Sinkevich, violoncello
Anna-Maria Palii, soprano*
Munich Radio Orchestra
Ivan Repušić, conductor
1 CD BR-KLASSIK 900336