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Osvaldas BALAKAUSKAS (b. 1937)
Symphony No. 4 (1988) [33:02]
Symphony No. 5 (2001) [30:13]
Romualdas Staškus (oboe)
Igor Kramarev (trumpet)
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra/Juozas Domarkas
rec. 21-23 May 2003 (4); 7-9 Sept 2004 (5). National Philharmonic Hall, Vilnius, Lithuania. DDD
co-production with Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre and financially supported by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of Lithuania.
NAXOS 8.557605 [63:14]

Two comparatively recent symphonies from one of Lithuania’s leading living practitioners of the symphony.

His symphonies are as follows:-

  • Symphony No. 1 - 3333-4331-4perc-cel-org-hrp-str [] 1973 24' Leningrad: Muzyka, 1979 PWM, 1994 LP Melodiya C10-10699
  • Symphony No. 2 - 3333-4331-4perc-cel-hrp-org(synth)-elec vc-str [] 1979 17' Leningrad: Sovetskij kompozitor, 1984 PWM, 1994 LP Melodiya C10-13003 CD 33 Records 33CD003, 1995
  • Ostrobothnian Symphony str [] 1989 20' PWM, 1993 CD Finlandia Records 4509-97892-2, 1995 CD Finlandia Records 3984-26810-2, 2000
  • Symphony No. 4 3333-4331-pf-4perc-str 1998 32' CD Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre LMIPCCD020, 2003 CD National Philharmonic Society of Lithuania LNF 003, 2005
  • Symphony No. 5 orch 2001 pf solo-orch 2004 29'

The Fourth Symphony is in three movements: Octa, Hendeca and Deca. The outer ones are slowly evolving meditations. Octa opens plangently with warm undulating music from the strings and a prominently recorded trembling figuration from the harp. The spectral-idyllic ambience recalls the Fifth Symphony of his Ukrainian teacher Valentin Silvestrov. At various times other composers including Delius, Roy Harris, Bernstein and Janáček are passingly referenced. Hendeca is more tense and insistently searching although ultimately rather cold. Deca returns to quasi luxuriant-warmth of Octa. The music weaves an intense spell with its long lines and insistent little rhythmic cells redolent of Tippett.

The Fifth Symphony is in four movements. A steadily paced rhapsodic tissue of sound is punctuated with protests for full orchestra. The honeyed Silvestrov style writing of the Fourth Symphony is here less in evidence. The second movement has many ballsy and bluesy outbursts with a prominent role for Igor Kramarev’s trumpet. In the third movement the solo voice is that of Romualdas Staškus’s oboe. The music is generally dreamy by contrast with the urgency of the finale with its bells, big band assaults and growling Rite of Spring upheavals.

This disc follows the Naxos recording (8.557604) of this composer’s understated Requiem (1995):- reviewed by Rob Barnett and Hubert Culot

Two intriguing recent symphonies: one largely meditative; the other jazzy, declamatory and urgent. The irresistibly hypnotic Kiev-Silvestrov style is much to the fore in the Fourth.

Rob Barnett



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