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Vytautas BARKAUSKAS (b. 1931)
Sun for symphony orchestra op. 69 (1983, 1995) [8:41]
Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra Op. 63 (1981) [24:09]
Symphony No. 5 Op. 81 (1986) [34:50]
Konzertstück für Orchester No. 2 op. 103 (1994, 1996) [8:15]
Yuri Bashmet (viola)
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra/Robertas Šervenikas; Juozas Domarkas
rec. Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall, Vilnius, live (opp. 63, 103); 8 January 2007 (Sun); 6 April 2001 (concerto); 9 January 2007 (5); 16 November 1996 (Konzertstück). DDD 
AVIE AV 2163 [75:55]

Experience Classicsonline

Barkauskas website:
 This is the sequel to Avie AV2073.

These four Lithuanian works - which largely predate those on the earlier disc - date from the decade and a half in which the Soviet Union in part fell away from the Baltic states and in part was pushed.

Sun opens with the suggestion of a dynamo hum cut across with piano and brass chords. A harpsichord tinkles. Fluttering energetic instrumental lines erupt in slow motion supported by a ringing, glassy and percussive ostinato. The flutter returns at the close in a simulacrum of peace overarched by the chaotic dynamo of the sun that holds the earth and moon in check. We are told that this music relates to the Pagan and shamanic adoration of the Sun.

This recording of the Viola Concerto is remarkable for the resourceful and vivid playing of Yuri Bashmet, its dedicatee.  The viola wails and husks, while harpsichord  arpeggios provide a plangent backdrop or drip in singular specks of sound. The strings conspire in a barely heard silvery thread of trembling sound.

The Fifth Symphony is a product of the year of the Chernobyl disaster. It is one of Barkauskas's six symphonies. Across five movements we hear that raindrop intimations of the harpsichord, the pummelling side-drum and the insistent trumpet panic. It’s all increasingly atavistic and gripped by hysteria and tension. The middle movement makes sport with a Stravinskian oboe and percussive tintinnabulatory slashes and parries. The awed expectation suggested by insectile buzzing is set against sheets of sleety sound. Then at 2:11 Barkauskas delights us with a very commercial soft-shoe shuffle. This cannot last – neither does it. The brass growl and strings bustle in panic. The finale is  another of Barkauskas’s essays in the kingdom lying just this side of silence. The writing has a breathless Panufnik-like gleaming perfection. The work ends amid  the tinkle of bells and the melodic benediction of the solo viola.

The Konzertstück für Orchester No. 2 recalls Sun. It is a virtuoso piece in which rushing urgent insurgencies run forward full tilt then halt while less assertive characters appear and hold forth. The brassy desert-devils of Sun return in this work and once again birds of nightmare are set loose.

The notes for this disc are by Svetlana Barkauska.
Rob Barnett





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