29 October 2015

GAIDA Festival: Three Concerts in Two Days

The past few days of GAIDA Festival have been intensive, a real tour de force of Baltic music. With premieres and performances of works by Tomas Kutavicius, Jurgis Juozopaitis, Justina Repeckaite, Albertas Navickas, Vykintas Baltakas, Ignas Krunglevicius, Arvo Part, and Juste Janulyte. I was asked by the GAIDA Festival to write a review of the concerts given by the Lietuvos Ansambliu Tinklas and New Era Orchestra, a full review of these concerts can be seen here.

This blog today will cover only Baltic composers, particularly the highlights for me. The first highlight I want to discuss is the work Mano seegantis langas by Tomas Kutavicius. The work was a premiere and performed by the New Era Orchestra. It was a profound work, starting with a circling passacaglia-like material, which was hypnotic and beautiful. The second half of the piece was far more energetic and rhythmical and really brought out highlights from the string orchestra. For me the real joy was seeing Tomas Kutavicius was not in the shadow of his father. The music was completely Tomas and had a wonderful almost whimsical nature to it. I sincerely hope the work is performed again in the near future and I get to hear more performances of his works.

The next highlight for me was the inclusion of Justina Repeckaite. She is quite a remarkable composer, and for me reviewing the concert was a bit of a daunting task, due mostly to the fact the young composer quoted me in her biography! The two works featured with Tapisserie and Rapid Eye Movements, both written for chamber ensembles and both highly focused pieces. Even though the performances weren't immaculate, the whole musicality of the pieces shone through. I highly recommend people check out her recordings here on her personal soundcloud, Tapisserie  is included on the page.

For regular follows of this blog, Vykintas Baltakas is a composer I have a lot of time for. It was wonderful to hear his music in a concert setting, and not just relying on the stash of recordings I have gathered. His ensemble, Lietuvos Ansambliu Tinklas, performed two pieces of his Redditio and Redditio 2. As I mentioned in the previous post about him, Baltakas is an intriguing composer in the way he reflects on his own music. Always pulling previous ideas apart, to reconstruct them into whole new works. These two works really highlighted this skill. Redditio is for mixed ensemble laid spatially around the hall, here as Redditio 2 is a wonderful work for wind quintet, with the same bursts of energy and colour. 

Last night was for me the highlight of the festival so far. A concert featuring only two composers Arvo Part and Juste Janulyte. I have featured both these composers before on this blog here and here. I already loved their music so much, I knew I was in for a treat when they were performed alongside each other. The pieces of Arvo Part that were performed were Da Pacem DomineSummaMagnificatThe woman with the Alabaster box, and Ode to Caesar. All wonderful pieces for choir, and performed beautifully by the Jauna Muzika ensemble. My only complaints were that Summa wasn't quite quick enough for my own liking and Magnificat was a bit too quick. Two wonderful pieces performed fantastically. To date, this is probably my favourite rendition of Part's Magnificat:

Last night's concert concluded with a new work by Juste Janulyte, Radiance. The new work was for choir and electronics, which were wonderfully manned by Michele Tadini and Antonello Raggi. The piece was reflection on two contrasting interpretation of radiance. The first focused on the radiance and brilliance of the sun, the other was radiating. The work was written as a commemoration to the 70th anniversary since the horrific acts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The piece for me was as powerful and reflective as Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel where the reflection and sheer stillness of sound mesmerises you. But the climax of this work was one of the most powerful things I think I have ever witnessed. To be in a trance for so long, to lose connection to the world around you and to forget time itself was astounding. Then sounds like bombs dropped, and gunfire surrounded the audience, to be awoken so violently from a trance left me speechless. This has to be a magnum opus of sorts for Juste, it was wonderful to see a composer not only really refine their art, but to make it reach new heights previously unimaginable. It would be one of the biggest mistakes ever for this work not to be performed again. 

Tomorrow night is the finale of GAIDA with performances of works by Louis Andriessen, Francesco Filidei, Mykolas Natalevicius, and Gedminas Gelgotas. Then I can get some hard earned sleep. Till next time!

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