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Vytautas BACEVIČIUS (1905-1970)
Poème électrique for orchestra (1932) [5:29]
Piano Concerto No. 1 Sur les thèmes lituaniens (1929) [14:16]
Symphony No. 2 della Guerra (1940) [21:07]
Symphony No. 6 Cosmique (1960) [12:17]
Graphique for orchestra (1964) [12:57]
Aidas Puodžiukas (piano)
Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra/Vytautas Lukočius (all except concerto); Martinus Staškus (concerto)

rec. Vilnius 2003-2005
first recordings

Sound Sample
Opening of Symphony 2: Allegro
Sound samples are removed after two months


These are indeed first recordings and were first released as part of the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre series on LMIPC CD 030. It was the second in that series; the first being a disc of music by Vladas Jakubenas.

Clearly Bacevičius was something of a revolutionary upstart. His Poème électrique recalls Markevitch and Mossolov. In the 1929 Piano Concerto we think of the works of Cowell and Markevitch again. There’s certainly nothing approaching a nationalist romantic essay although the writing is very accommodating of exquisite Szymanowski-like harmonies and of discords. There's also a crunching brashness about this music that recalls the sardonic ways of Kurt Weill mixed in with saltier episodes in Walton's contemporary Sinfonia Concertante.

The Symphony No. 2 della Guerra leaves you in little doubt that it is about raw brutality and crackling mechanistic energy. The work is a three movement rearing storm of fury. However a more delicate - even tender - central section has an elegant Gallic interlude for harp solo.

Two decades later came the Cosmique, Symphony No. 6. This is in a single movement. The music is mournful, hunted and haunted, elegiac. We hear a tortured lyricism extruded from the quieter sections of The Rite of Spring. The music becomes more protesting and bombastic as it careers towards its close. This is a fascinating example of the cosmic obsession shared with Scriabin, Jolivet and Varese.

The last work here is Graphique which was influenced by the abstract work of Bacevičius’s friend Adomas Galdikas. It was originally written in graphical form à la Ferneyhough, Cage and Wuorinen but then transcribed into conventional notation. It is music of the out and out avant garde.

Bacevičius wrote music that is often tough and of a type indebted to Schoenberg. This style would never have been acceptable if Bacevičius had lived in Lithuania rather than being an almost constant wandering pilgrim-refugee.

Rob Barnett

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