Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where's he been hiding?

Vytautas Sriubikis, that is. He's a flautist with a gorgeous sound and lovely interpretation - and he plays in the opera orchestra? (Not Lithuania's best orchestra, but flute jobs are hard to come by, I suppose). Still, it's nice for the opera audience, and I'm looking forward to hearing him in the Valkyrie on Saturday. He has a lovely flute with a metal headjoint and a wooden body.

Meanwhile tonight he played with the St Christopher Chamber Orchestra under the delightful Donatas Katkus, who I could swear, is becoming a bit of a shadow of his former self. Is he losing weight, too? Probably not a catastrophe.....

It was an interesting concert; I'm glad I went! Starting off with Schnittke's 'Suite in the ancient style' for flute and string orchestra, written for a film called 'Adventures of a dentist'. Schnittke is becoming known as one of the greatest Soviet composers of the last century. This was typical Schnittke. If you had not known the composer you would have thought it was old stuff, kind of baroque, and really consistent for a long while. Then you'd meet a little run which was a bit different, and a bit later there was a harmony that was screamingly pure Schnittke, really funny. The piece kind of petered out. It also seemed to be over faster than expected - maybe some of the movements were joined together? This was played beautifully by all - though perhaps the (new) first fiddler did not sound as assertive as she could have done.

Jurgis Juozapaitis' string symphony 'Hill of Crosses' followed. The Hill of Crosses, near Siauliai in Lithuania, not surprisingly is a hill covered in crosses, and a bit of a place of pilgrimage (Image from here). The piece sounded like an atonal description of a foggy morning on the hill which slowly, very slowly, turns tonal and evaporates into the ether. It's difficult for the orchestra because it's all divisi and I suspect you need to count like crazy. But they got it together. Do I need to hear it again?

Vytautas Sriubikis joined them for Jolivet's flute concerto; a very French kind of piece, 20th century with the structure of a 17th century sonata, slow fast slow fast, and short movements. It was nice and they all played it well. He really is a good soloist.

Second half was Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' arranged (and slightly recomposed, no?) for string orchestra by Mahler. Not that he got any credit in the programme - or was it someone else's version? And what was that with the first violins playing divisi? Loads of energy, in the usual St Christopher style, went into the performance, very rumbustious it was. Not entirely convinced about the second movement's tune, that it was played with separate bows; it sounded a bit pedestrian. I would have played it more legato, really smoothly. And the last movement's opening seemed to lack contrast a bit, but otherwise it was a great performance.

This really is the best chamber orchestra in Vilnius!


Anonymous said...

In case you are interested, this concert was recorded using some very high class hand-made recording equipment. Extracts of some of the more beautiful and uplifting moments of the concert are available to be downloaded at www.lessloss.com/recordings_2.html

violainvilnius said...

Wow, thanks!

Anonymous, I think you were sitting right in front of me recording it - I was in the front row...