4 November 2016

Quick look back at GAIDA 2016

As GAIDA 2016 is coming to its close, admittedly there are three concerts left, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to reflect over the festival this year and contemplate my highlights and so on. Also for those who are curious, I am doing this now as the final three concerts have no connection to Baltic music, and almost everyone internationally knows Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet, so I don't need to fill people in on it.
This year's festival has been wonderfully varied with ensembles from all over Europe being involved, performing music from across the globe. Like every year, there are multiple world premieres from Lithuanian composers and this year there were some real treats indeed. 

For those who read my review of the Quartettissimo concert, know how struck I was by ArtVio's wonderful performing, but also by the premiere by Ramunas Motiekaitis. X Ciklai by Ramunas Motiekaitis, was a truly masterful work, the colourful dectet really demonstrated the breadth of the composer's musical palette. The modest brilliance of the work still strikes me, this long after the premiere, a real joy to behold and I desperately need to get hold of the recording! 

The premiere of Vykintas Baltakas's commentum for cello and orchestra for me was another great highlight. Admittedly I don't know what I loved more, Baltakas's wonderful music or the wonderful performance of Francesco Dillon. Either way it really was wonderful to watch. 

Juste Janulyte's Harp is a Chord was another surprise. For me the previous excitement was mostly in the curiosity of how Juste would tackle the confusing combination of Harpsichord and Accordion, especially when many of her previous works depend on the similarity in colours. The work was truly glorious, the interaction between the two was inspired. A wonderful piece indeed!

So they were my favourite premieres, but what about concerts? Well for me the many of the concerts were grand, and to be honest some of my favourite concerts I didn't previously review simply due to the lack of Baltic music within the concert. So in no particular order, here are my three favourite concerts. 

I think I should start with Ensemble Synaethesis's debut. The young'uns made their GAIDA premiere, and their premiere in such an international platform. There choice of repertoire was broad and daring, including a premiere by the French Matthias Leboucher, multiple pieces by Michael Gordon, a work by the magical Dane Simon Steen-Anderson, and the majestic Vortex Temporum by Gerard Grisey. I was excited about this concert, mostly because of the performance of Grisey and Leboucher. I was also extremely nervous for the ensemble as it was quite a momentous occasion and I only wanted them to nail it. And damn, did they nail it. They were on the strongest form I have ever witnessed. For such a debut, they gave the perfect performance. They met expectations and smashed most of them, they really showed they are an ensemble on their way onwards and upwards! I was particularly impressed by Synaethesis's pianist, Marta Finkelstein, I say this mostly because Vortex Temporum's piano part is just devilish, and she was just remarkable. The whole ensemble were great, but Marta definitely needs the extra mention. Bravo one and all. As I said in a previous post about them, as long as they continue to broaden their musical horizons, they will be a truly magical ensemble very soon. 

Goska Isphording and Maciej Frackiewicz's duo concert was another joy. As with my curiosity of Juste's piece, I was curious to hear such a peculiar combination in a full concert. Every piece they played, they played with brilliance and panache. Without a doubt one of my favourite concerts. The mix of repertoire combined with wonderful performing was perfect. 

My third highlight of the festival was Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra's opener to the festival. The combination of Kurtag, Baltakas, and Liza Lim was just a magnificent choice indeed. Such a great complimentary combination of repertoire, similar enough they could be paired together, but not so similar it becomes tedious. The orchestra were on pretty solid form, Jonathan Berman was a fine conductor to watch and particularly came to life performing Kurtag's Double Concerto.  A glorious night indeed.

So there we have it GAIDA 2016, bring on next year, and bring on more wonderful concerts this year!

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