Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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LITHUANIAN ORCHESTRAL MUSIC Symphony Music - Live: Vytautas BARKAUSKAS (b. 1931) Konzerstück No. 2 (1994) 8:51 (1) Feliksas BAJORAS (b. 1934) Exodus II (1996) 11:15 (2) Vytautas GERMANAVICIUS (b. 1969) Affluente (1995) 13:05 (1) Algirdas MARTINAITIS (b. 1950) Unfinished Symphony (1995) 15:03 (1) Remigius MERKELYS (b. 1964) Existence (1994) 21:12 (3) Lithuanian National SO cond Juozas Domarkas (1); Robertas Servenikas (2) ; Leon Botstein (3) recordings from Lithuanian Radio 1995-96LCUCD001[69:26]


I am grateful to webmaster Len Mullenger for alerting me to the website for the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre (LMIC). This disc and a handful of others are available from LMIC. More information about the centre and the range of discs and publications is available from (a very helpful source of information).

The disc comprises five contemporary single-movement works one by each of five Lithuanian composers. Be aware - these are fairly modernistic in idiom. While each has a different character we are not talking Tubin-like late-romanticism. If anything these works might well resemble the music of the British 'Manchester school' composers of the 1970s but with an occasional Northern/Sibelian undertow.

The booklet is rather sombre but is full of information in both Lithuanian and English although the English suffers occasionally from rather awkward translations (nothing to match the early Supraphon LP notes!).

The Barkauskas was one of the revolutionary voices of 1970s Lithuania. His Konzertstück is full of dramatic brass gestures and dynamism in general. It began reminding me of the late Robert Simpson's masterly Fifth Symphony. There are some memorable drifts of Bergian and romantically piercing strings.

The Bajoras has some of Sibelian power of the Barkauskas. There are plenty of stepped and repeated figures with inventive whistling and skittering noises. The orchestra needs to be a virtuoso instrument and the Lithuanian orchestra lives up to the requirement. Amongst its many points of interest there is an explosively energetic piano solo. Overall though this does not have the same successful sense of mystery/fantasy as the Barkauskas. Endings seem to be a challenge. Both the Bajoras and the Barkauskas end without a great sense of conviction.

The Germanavicius sports various brands of percussive noises shaking and shimmering, xylophone tremolo, atonal moments, long-held piercing notes. The sense of purpose here is difficult to make out. It gives the impression of vertebrae floating free rather than articulated to a clear musical purpose.

The Martinaitis opens with something that sounds like the start of The Ride of the Valkyries. It has a quite lambent and wonderfully pulsing romantic theme which is half Valse Triste and half Dr Zhivago. As if to attest to the studio conditions there is an explosive cough at 6:19. This is a most rewarding work (although again, for me, lacking a sense of shape) enhanced by yet a further melodic inspiration which was perhaps inspired by Prokofiev's music for Eugene Onegin.

The Merkelys left me utterly cold which is a pity as, at more than 21 minutes, it is the longest piece on the disc.

Altogether then an enterprising collection for the stern-hearted explorer. Recommended in those terms.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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