Friday, May 16, 2008

All 20th century

Two things marred today's concert (exam) at the Music Academy for me today - the quite unnecessary addition of endless poetry between pieces, and the fact that someone nicked my programme during the interval. Luckily I managed to nick one in turn from the assessor's table, otherwise the review might have been even more vague than normal. I was also a bit concerned about the poetry since the name of the reader, Bialobzeskis, was the same as the name on a death advert at the entrance of the music academy. Surely if it had been a relative then he should not have been in the performance.

The concert featured on two doctoral candidates, Egle Andrejevaite (accompanist), and Mindaugas Backus, cello (who will finish his studies next year). To give Ms Andrejevaite something else than a cello to accompany there were also two high-level singers, Joana Gedmintaite and Mindaugas Zimkus, both well-known in Lithuania. I have a feeling it might have been the pianist's final exam, given the amount of flowers she received - but I may be wrong.

The programme was all 20th century, Berg, Barkauskas and Hindemith. As I mentioned in my last review, Berg is no longer a revolutionary, and this piece, 'five early songs' (actually from 'Seven Early Songs', composed in 1905-1908) was particularly un-revolutionary. I thought I got a flavour of Debussy....Could not actually make out any of the German words, but decided that perhaps the Grand Hall of the Music Academy does not have wonderful acoustics for language. The 'Liebesode' (a lovesong) sounded rather strident, but Ms Gedmintaite tended to sing loud in general.....

Barkauskas' concert suite for cello and piano, played by Mindaugas Backus, followed; a piece of possibly 4 or 5 movements (some blended into each other) with bits of minimalism and other styles (I'm not that good at contemporary music). Quite challenging, especially with lots of fast and very low semiquavers (?), some interesting double stops, places where the cello was on its own for a long time (but the piano never got a chance of similar solo work....). It faded to a close. This went very well, apart from some tiny moments of intonation. The phrasing was beautiful!

Mindaugas Zimkus produced a wonderfully dramatic interpretation of Barkauskas' 'Seven 'Airenai' (whatever an 'airenas' may be). Did not understand the words, apart from one or two (and they were Lithuanian so even the drift would not have helped me), but the way he told the stories was awesome.

Finally Mindaugas Backus returned with Hindemith's Capriccio and Phantasiestueck. Both these are quite early works, given that his op 11 canon was written in 1919. And they sounded like this, too. The Capriccio was rather fun. I could not work out why the balance between the cello and the piano was so difficult, given that the piano lid was down. When Backus removed his mute at the end of the piece, all became clear. That's a nasty trick to play on an accompanist - writing a piece that's permanently muted! The Phantasiestueck, too, was very interesting and pleasant (and is definitely not stealable for the viola). As I was listening to Backus performing these pieces, I was wondering - what exactly can they teach him in the Academy? He should be teaching there, if it would not be wasting his time, given the pittance they pay people. But I gather he is doing this doctorate for interest rather than occupational need. Great way of studying music - I know!

Egle Andrejevaite, accompanying everyone, did very well indeed, producing lots of different colours and sounds, and supporting her partners very effectively - though there seemed to be few challenges in terms of rubatos and other moments of exceptionally close cooperation. I wonder about the programming, though. Maybe it was required to have only 20th century music, but even though the pieces were from opposite ends of the century, Barkauskas is relatively conventional - it would have been nice to have something radically different in the programme (not necessarily Cage's 4'33" which in any case is a solo piece, but some Kurt Weill, or something excruciatingly Darmstadtian).

The endless poems at least gave me the opportunity to examine the fabric of the hall, like the double window beside me - the frame of the outside window was thickly coated with foam, but still there was an inch-wide gap between the frames; the inside window was not much better. There was evidence of the outside window joints having been taped over during the winter. Bit ironic that at the exit to the teachers' car park is a sign to conserve electricity, and yet in the winter the heat must pour out of the building.


Mindaugas said...

tai tau patiko ar nepatiko?

violainvilnius said...

Man patiko!