This is a CD single
- an admirable format for its singleness
of vision if not always its economy.
Similar exemplary ventures have come
from NMC and Altarus. The disc also
acts as a wondrously complementary accompaniment
to the Conifer
CD of the first three quartets (75605
51334 2) sporadically still available
This scorching yet
solace-filled five movement work was
commissioned for the Kronos in 2000
and premiered in Paris. After a first
movement of ineffable stillness comes
the vitriol-blast of the Shostakovichian
Toccata (like the acidic scherzo material
in the 11th and 12th symphonies). Without
drawing breath, this segues into the
expressive ruminations of the Chorale.
This is succeeded by the return of the
breathless abrasion of the Toccata.
The Meditation returns to the quietude
of the Elegy with tender singing solo
lines from the violin. These sing, Tormis-like,
the folksong Who were they who sang?
That stratospherically-aspiring melody
carries some of the burden of the Finzi
Introit. If you like that work and indeed
Vasks’ own Violin Concerto you will
want this piece too. Among the Vasks
fingerprints heard in the two outer
movements are slaloming violin lines
typical of Penderecki's Threnody
(though here infinitely gentler)
and of Hovhaness's Fra Angelico.
Notes are by the composer.
In a world fraught
with tragedy this meditation on the
world's violence and its healingly consolatory
songs is not to be missed. Vasks, rather
like Urmis Sisask, looks to the heavens
and there finds benison and transcendence.