Sunday, October 26, 2008

Starting with a bang!

(Late addendum; it seems the programme published on the website had the pieces in a different order in which they were played; I wish they would not do that, especially when we (probably) have to pay to get a programme...order is now corrected in the review; see comment).

This year's Gaida festival of contemporary music is combined with the World Music Days, a festival of contemporary music that takes place in a different country every year. Why it is in in Vilnius the year before the European Capital of Culture year, God knows. Next year it will take place in Sweden; in Goeteborg, Vaexjoe in middle Sweden and on Gotland.

It means non-stop contemporary music for the next fortnight. Bit of a mixed blessing, but useful for those of us who try to study music. Last night's concert at the Filharmonija involved a very large version of that National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the senior Juozas Domarkas, with Petras Geniusas as the soloist. And a very interesting programme it was, too!

Yuasa Joji's 'Cosmos Haptic V' was wonderful! It was the one that started with the bang, and involved much complicated percussion throughout the piece, magnificently played by one of the band's percussionists. In some ways it reminded my of the sea interludes from 'Peter Grimes' - there was a theme in the middle which seemed very similar to a motif that appears in that opera. The piece came and went, and told a story - it was really great, and began the evening's trend towards massive applause for the composers.

The next piece was one that did not come and go, and did not tell a story. Ligeti's 'Atmospheres' (am I beginning to detect a cosmic theme?) was simply a soundscape; it was strange, because it had a huge and very busy looking score, but for the entire duration nothing much happened. Apparently it had been worked on by Vytautas Jurgutis, but not knowing the original I cannot say what he did. Now that I know about these things I can just be with the music, rather than expecting changes. It was ok, but perhaps nothing to leave the home for - though you could imagine it working quite well as the background to a nature film (eg a long film watching clouds passing slowly over alpine peaks - a sunrise would be too exciting, or if you needed one of those calmness and relaxation moments).

Oscar Carmona's 'En dehors II' was a more lively piece, with much complicated playing - with an electronic part which was essentially like a thunderstorm. Was this the piece where a flautist rushed from the piccolo to the alto flute? Reminded me a bit of Holst's 'Planets', but of course only a tiny bit.

Finally we had John Adams' 'Century Rolls' piano concerto. The audience reaction afterwards was interesting; many people liked it, others dismissed it as 'entertainment music'. Well, folks, that's the nature of American music. I wonder what Adorno would have made of it. It was kind of a mixture of minimalism and jazz (and blues??) progressions, with the first movement firmly centred on f-sharp. No, I have not suddenly got perfect pitch - I was sitting above the pianist, and could see his fingers stuck around that note. The first movement was also extremely tricky rhythmically for the orchestra, but they hung in well - though at the end the first violins petered out a little (partly intentionally, but not entirely). The other movements were fairly conventional, one slow, one fast with much frantic playing, and the pianist having the rhythms driven into his shoulders. I found it very interesting, musicologically speaking and am glad I had the chance to hear it. John Adams is one of the key composers in the US these days, ever since his opera 'The Death of Klinghoffer' - how many readers remember this event? Two words 'Achille Lauro'....

At the reception afterwards some chap from the American embassy did a most impressive speech in Lithuanian, reading from a script, but pronouncing very nicely.


Anonymous said...

Hi violainvilnius..,

Please, let me correct to you in a very important thing..

About the concert of Saturday 25, with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra.

The second work was not En Dehors by Oscar Carmona, the second work in the concert was ATMHOSPHERES, by Ligeti.....!!!!! (the soundscape)

And the last piece of the first part (where you say:

.... had been transformed by Vytautas Jurgutis into the piece with an electronic component, just in the middle. I don't know how much else he changed. It was a more lively piece, with much complicated playing - the electronic part was essentially like a thunderstorm. Was this the piece where a flautist rushed from the piccolo to the alto flute? Reminded me a bit of Holst's 'Planets', but of course only a tiny bit.,,,,,

THAT WAS THE PIECE BY OSCAR CARMONA, EN DEHORS II....., (and that piece did not have electronics!!!!....)

So, please, review your comments or the name of the pieces.......
anyway if you need more information, you can ask to de conductor, or you can review the website of the composer Oscar Carmona (www.myspace.com/ocarmona) and....you should listen and know Atmospheres by Ligeti, is a very famous work.....

and all the best.

Composer, and delegate in ISCM World Music Days Festival 2008