3 March 2017

Kurybos tiltai - Tada, Dabar

This evening was my first concert in Vilnius in quite some time and boy was it an intriguing event. In short, the concert was a performance of all the composers within the third year of undergraduate studies. However, the intriguing catch was the inclusion of pieces by them from either at the beginning or just before they started studying within the Academy. Its a particularly brave gesture as logic would dictate, the younger works would be naive, and relying mostly on the potential of the composer more than necessarily base craftmanship at that point. Having these works paired with newer pieces is interesting, as it instantly and very clearly depicts their trajectory and development as composers. 

The four 'early' works by the four composers were very characteristic of young applicants, mostly owing a lot to the music they themselves performed with some personal twists added into the mix. All four pieces really showed the potential the staff in the academy saw, and in that light were charming and interesting works. I won't go into depth on these pieces, mostly because there's a fine line between criticism and harrassing teenagers. However, the one piece out of the group was Jura Elena Sedyte's Azuolelis (2014) as it shows a composer who has thrown caution to the wind and just wants to explore. So it definitely had the most character without question.

The second half of the concert was built up of purely newer works. Starting with an electronic piece by Goda Marija Guzauskaite called Makabriskos atostogos (2014). The electronics were generally quite simple, but the necessity for them was apparrant quite quickly. The manic piano sounds were extremely reminiscent of Conlon Nancarrow, especially his cheekier pieces like his Boogie Woogie Suite. However in contrast, this work was far more minimalistic in tone too, baring a huge resemblence to works by Rytis Mazulis. The form was clear, but I felt that more could have been done with the electronics in someway, mostly to avoid the piece just being a matter of fact.

The following piece RVCNYP (2017) by Aleksej Kalinin for mixed ensemble of flute, piano, electric guitar, cello, and voice. The work was instantly more 'experimental' with its raw potent use of distortion and crunchy piano sounds. The work shows Aleksej is still exploring and finding his feet, which is a noble and worthwhile task indeed, and he has definitely come on a long way. However, some elements really need to devloped, namely the more 'peaceful' gestures were often very naive tonal harmonies which made the whole performance feel more like a naff prog-rock jam session instead of some hardcore experimental happening. I also felt the flute was just a tad tame in it. I imagine if there was a screaming piccolo flying above the chaos or a bass flute smashing out some juicy multiphonics it would be a more striking use of flute. A big nod has to be handed to the singer Dalia Krapavicikaite who, despite the devilish and terrifying nature of the vocal part within its surroundings, managed to perform it with great precision and control.

Then something more modest followed. Vilte Zakeviciute's Laumiu suvartai (2017) for two accordions was a fascinating filler and departure from her surroundings. The two accordionists proudly walked out, and after some confused shuffling from stage manangement, sat and performed quite a remarkable duo. The work had a crystalline clarity and every gesture felt necessary and purposeful. The overall effect was an almost symphonic piece for an underused instrumental combination. She managed to avoid many cliches of the instrument, and just quietly stated her point. The interplay of ideas was curious and charming, the lively sections were full of bustling potential and the still segments were able to sit calmly allowing everyone to breath. It was simply remarkable, bravo Vilte, and bravi Raimonds Ungurs and Agne Rimgailaite who gave such a well delivered premiere.

After some more shuffling came a larger work by Jura Elena Sedyte. Unlike her compatriots, there was not the same drastic distance between her piece in the first half and her new work. Somnus de Somno (2017) for vocal trio, piano, and electric guitar was in a similar, but more elaborate vein of thought as her earlier Azuolelis. The use of extended techniques, and vocal gestures shows a composer still eager to explore the whole world of sound available to her. With her greater understanding, the musical gestures had a greater sense of dramatic intent, as opposed to just sounding 'edgy'. The vocal writing was extensive, and to be honest was always strongest when it was to the extreme end of vocal sounds. The 'chorale' section felt a bit lackluster, mostly because it did not have the same profundity in construction as her experimental gestures, but the constrast was striking. As a composer she is definitely growing, and I would love her to continue pushing the boat out, and really throwing caution to the wind. 

The finale came in the form of an even newer electronic work by Goda Marija GuzauskaiteGarso Link (2017), was an interesting interplay of instrumental sounds, flowing freely within the playground that is electronic sound. The architecture was solid, and has been in all of the works we heard this evening by Goda, she is quite naturally built for these kinds of things. The musicality was also at its strongest in this piece I felt, but for me the issue lies in the fact there is so much further you can go with electronics, and Goda really needs to dive head first into this cavern to truly make the most of it. There is no question of her knowledge of capabilities, she just simply needs to jump into it, and then she'll be writing truly astounding things.

The concert was a lovely event indeed. My two favourites which stood out for me were Vilte's Laumiu suvartai and Jura's Somnus de Somno. Both Aleksej and Goda are really developing indeed, and it is only a matter of time I imagine before the write something which truly stuns me. I feel an extra nod needs to go out to Dalia Krapavickaite for her wonderful performing, out of all the performers this evening she was definitely thrown the deepest down the well and she evidently took it in her stride. A truly glorious perform indeed. All of them, except Vilte, are on soundcloud, I definitely recommend you have a listen for yourselves.

*The whole concert can be heard here: 

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