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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Peteris VASKS (b.1946)
Landscape with Birds (1980) [8.22]
Fantasia - Landscape of a burnt-out earth (1992) [17.03]
Episodi e canto perpetuo - Hommage a O. Messiaen (1985) [26.45]
Music for a Deceased Friend (1981) [10.17]
Book (1978) [13.48]
Dita Krenberga (flute) Landscape
Inara Zandmane (piano) Fantasia
Latvian Philharmonic Trio Episodi e canto perpetuo
Riga Wind Quintet Music for a Deceased Friend
Kristine Blaumane (cello) Book
rec. Riga Recording Studio, Riga, Latvia, 8-12 Dec 1995. DDD
CONIFER CLASSICS 75605 51272 2 [76.40]



Landscape with Birds is recorded with enthusiastic warmth and immediacy. Dita Krenberga plays with fine imaginative sensitivity although there is too much mechanical noise from the keys. It is a long piece for solo flute but such is the variety and virtuosity of technique and poetic expression that Vasks holds and grips the attention. It is a work of considerable concentration.

The 1992 Fantasia - Landscapes of a burnt-out earth is for solo piano. It plays for about seventeen minutes across three movements. It is shot through with something close to disillusion; perhaps reflective of the hopes kindled by freedom from the Soviets but the frustrations of a new regime still falling short of national ideals. The music is characterised by angry impacts and an introspective reflection that does not impart comfort.

The eight movements of the Episodi e canto perpetuo piano trio are chilly and far from consolatory, The work was written in homage to Messiaen but the aggressive music is closer to late Shostakovich than to the French composer. This is music of serious, not to say tragic, inclination and gall. It meets relief and poetry in the violent bells and joyful song of the finale.

Music For A Deceased Friend was written in memory of the bassoonist Jana Barinska who died tragically. It is tentative and exploratory with more roles for birdsong who provide a confidence which soon leaches away. The instrumentation is for wind quintet.

The laconically titled Book is from 1978. It is a full-on rhapsodic ballad in two movements. The first is a coarse and violent fortissimo. The following pianissimo has the instrument high in its register seeming to disappear into stratospheric realms, stuttering yet smooth. Once again Vasks' spirituality emerges in the ‘still small voice’. There is a composer-specified vocalise from the cellist at 6.40.


Rob Barnett

 



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