20 May 2016

Lithuanian Composer's Union awards

Last night was the Lithuanian Composer's Union awards where prizes were given to the panels favourite premieres of 2015. I sadly was unable to be there in person as I was on my way back from Vienna and ever so slightly brain dead once I finally arrived in Vilnius. This being said, I had spies in the audience, and the official announcement of the winners is on the Lithuanian Music Information Centre's website, however there isn't an English translation of it, which is an issue for another day.

Having been here in person since September, I have had to luxury of witnessing most of the pieces shortlisted. The rest of the shortlist here has full recordings of everything, so it was interesting to check out what I missed. 

In short, I feel I am at complete odds with the Composer's union's choices. With the exception of the public prize, I was particularly unimpressed with the winners. I am not in a position to comment on the public prize, as it was up to the public, so well done Ruta Vitkauskaite. My only worry is the fact that most of the composers in the shortlist aren't the most savvy at social media, so it can be argued they didn't necessarily have an equal opportunity to win it. But as I said the public has spoken and with over 700 votes, people definitely believed in Ruta's Confessions.

There were four other sections of prizes:uz stiliaus grynuma - purest style (or purity of style, depending on how you want to translate it)
uz ambicinga ideja - most ambitious style
uz orkestro vaizdinguma - best orchestral colour (or best orchestral imagery) 
jaunojo kompozitoriaus - Young composer

These four sections are quite open meaning composers in the youngest generation get to lock horns with the oldest. But on the other hand, groups like purest style are so vague it could be impossible to choose a winner. 

In the 'uz stiliaus grynuma' section, Vidmantas Bartulis won with his Voyage du silence. Admittedly I do have a soft spot for his work, it can often be quite moving and sincere. But Voyage du silence is just a bit dull, or like a weaker version of Eduard Tubin or even Stasys Vainiunas. Simplicity can be beautiful but this work failed. Definitely far from being a victor in my books.

For 'uz ambicinga ideja' the prize went to Egidija Medeksaite for her work Akasha which was premiered in GAIDA 2016. Those of you who can remember that far back, I was unimpressed by the work. I felt that there was too much adoption of bigger composers like Helmut Lachenmann, and not enough of Egidija. I also pointed out it was far surpassed by Ricardas Kabelis's Bole LT which was one of the most original pieces in the entire festival. I can understand why she was chosen, if you have never heard a note of Scelsi, Sciarrino, Lachenmann et al. the sounds the piece made was a bit more original. So maybe the panel just needed to listen to a bit more music first. 

Award ceremonies rarely make me cross, I admit I rarely agree but am never so stunned and shocked by a panel's decision. 'Uz orkestro vaizdinguma' was one of the worst choices I think that could be made. Mykolas Natalevicius's Karaciajus through some hole in the space time continuum defied all logic and won. A prize for best orchestral colour, or best orchestration, should go to a composer with a certain degrees of prowess in orchestration. I witnessed this piece's premiere and ultimately it was naive and half baked. The use of colour was basic, and particularly the use of brass was childish dull. I understand the piece was meant to show the horrors of a post-nuclear landscape, but brass should be menacing, not dull. 

The prize for 'jaunojo kompozitoriaus' went to Elena Sataites for her work Eremos. I have no clue what the criteria is for this group, especially when noone can agree on what constitutes a young composer. Elena's piece was quite sweet, but sadly did fall into a Baltic pastiche. If she was up against other students finishing their undergraduate last year, I know some composers who were more impressive. And if she were up against just young composers in general, I can name a few who outshone this piece. 

If I had influence on the awards this is how I would have gone:
uz stiliaus grynuma - Would have been a hard choice for me, but it would have either gone to Osvaldas Balakauskas for his Mozaika a truly wonderful piece for accordion, and further proof his Dodecatonality is both expansive and brilliant. Alternatively I would have chosen Ramunas Motiekaitis's Sonatina his beautifully unassuming music is by far one of the most original voices Lithuania has ever produced. 

uz ambicinga ideja - Without a doubt has to go to Juste Janulyte for her piece Radiance. I am rarely dumbfounded by a piece and Radiance blew me out of the water. Truly remarkable. 

uz orkestro vaizdinguma - Now there are two possible winners in my book, if I went for skill of orchestration and elegance of the craft, Marius Baranauskas's Palaiminimai is an outright winner. He is a skilled craftsman and even though it wasn't my favourite work by him its purity of craft must be commended. Alternatively if I went just for skill with colour and sheer inventiveness, the prize would have to go to Zibuokle Martynaityte's Ramybes Diptikai. This elegant work for violin and electronics is beautiful, striking and the interaction between the two is modestly remarkable. 

I won't offer my alternative for the jaunojo kompozitoriaus prize as I don't know the full extent of their process. 

I am intrigued by other people's views of the awards, as an outside looking in I wonder if it is just my opinion of the world of if others share my thoughts. Anyways can't ponder too much about the past. Got more fun things to discuss in the near future, like Druskomanija 2016 and a CD I have been meaning to review for a while now!

No comments:

Post a Comment