OF THE MONTH
Dvorak Opera Premiere
Latvian Music Series - Volume
1 Romualds JERMAKS (b.1931) Five Latvian Folk Songs (one
piano four hands) [11:15] Talivaldis KENINS (b. 1919)
Sonata for Two Pianos [18:06] Imants MEZARAUPS (b. 1958) Deux Postludes après Chopin (one
piano four hands) [3:53] Selga MENCE (b.1953) Songs for Two Pianos
(2000) [17:53] Imants ZEMZARIS (b. 1951)
Three Sisters - Fantasy
for Two Pianos (1975) [9:23] Dace APERANS (b. 1951) Haiku for
Two Pianos [7:40] Andris VECUMIEKS (b.1964) Quasi Campanella - paraphrase of an etude by N Paganini - F Liszt
(one piano four hands) [5:33] Paraphrase after J P Rameau's
'Two Hens' [6:11]
Antra and Normunds Visne (piano duo) rec. Latvian Radio, no details given.
ANGELOK1 CD-7701 [79:57] Latvian Music Series - Volume
2 Juris ABOLS (b. 1950) Trio for flute, violin and piano [18:14] Arturs GRINUPS (1931-1989)
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano [19:54] Vilnis SMIDBERGS (b.1944) Trio-Sonata for Flute, Violin
and Piano [16:00] Imants ZEMZARIS (b.1951)
Marvel Pieces for violin,
viola, cello and piano [16:39]
Bulavs Chamber Ensemble: Juris Abols (flute); Janis Bulavs (violin);
Edmunds Goldsteins (piano) (Abols); Janis Bulavs (violin); Leons
Veldre (cello); Aldis Piepins (piano) (Grinups, Smidbergs); Janis
Bulavs (violin); Olavs Stals (viola); Leons Veldre (cello); Aldis
Piepins (piano) (Zemzaris) rec. 2001-2004, Latvian Radio. DDD
ANGELOK1 CD-7702 [70:47]
How much better documented are these two separately available
Latvian music discs than their Ukrainian brethren on the same
The two piano/piano
duo disc presents Jermaks' Five Latvian Folk Songs
in irresistible romantic style - like a sentimental yet
poetic reflection of Grieg's folk tunes. These are playful and
delightful pieces. Remarkable is the deliquescence of the Silver
Rain was Falling (tr. 4). Jermaks has a particular interest
in his country's folksongs. Liepaja-born Kenins' wild
Stravinskian, pianola-accented Sonata at times sounds like an
escapee from Nancarrow and Messiaen although the plangent and
clouded Largo is another matter altogether. Mezaraups'
Chopin Postludes have that same pianola complexity although
the music also prompted thoughts of Sorabji. The Second Postlude
is a much more refractory work than the First. Mezaraups is
based in Philadelphia where he was born. Mence's Songs
are Songs of the Winter Stars (chilly like Urmas
Sisask), Song of the Blue Hills (warmingly and potently
brooding - a remarkable piece); Song of the Stones (wiry
music with much reaching inside the piano for plucked string
effects); Song of the Grass (hesitant and trembling).
Mence was born in Liepaja. Zemzaris's Three Sisters
Fantasy is derived from Chekhov's play. It hammers insistently
- a stony ruthless carillon yet then surprisingly embraces a
sentimentally frank melody of potent commercial power at 3.40.
This is before it disappears into a shiver of fragile dissonance
and bell shards. Zemzaris is a native of Riga. Aperans'
two Haiku are in one case quietly mesmeric and in the
other icily mysterious - a touch of Messiaen and gamelan here.
Aperans is from Winnipeg. Vecumieks makes playful fun
out of the Campanella and Two Hens. He was born
Good notes and a fine
and generously packed anthology from instantly accessible to
tougher yet rewarding.
The music on the second
disc owes at least part of its make-up to the Latvian composer
Adolfs Skulte. Skulte wrote at least ten symphonies and the
few I have heard speak of a superheated dense lyricism rather
like an updated and Nordicised version of Joseph Marx's
Naturtrilogie and Herbstsymphonie. Time for a
new recording project please. All four of the composers here
were pupils in Skulte's composition class. Abols’ Trio
is witty, fragile, insistently patterned, stony, enigmatic and
wrapped in chilly melodic tendrils. It sounds in some measure
like a blend of Stravinsky and Copland in chamber mode with
some of the Sargasso concentration to be found in the symphonies
of Allan Pettersson. Grinups' three movement Trio is
a tempestuous affair with conflict as the patent driving force.
There is a brutality about some of this writing leavened only
by a Tippett-like bliss of lyricism, as for instance in the
final andante con moto. Smidbergs is a member
of the Bulavs Ensemble. His single movement Trio-Sonata is hauntingly
fine, wispy and Ravelian at one level but there are outbursts
of violence and Penderecki-style whispered confidences which
discreetly slalom and ululate. Smidbergs has two symphonies
to his name as well as two works termed Concerto-Symphony.
Such is the concentration evident from this writing that I would
very much welcome the opportunity to hear more. Zemzaris’s
four Marvel Pieces include a paranoiac tango (Crazy
Love), a Grappelli-style smooch (Floridian Beaches),
a primitivist parodic waltz (Melancholic Waltz) and at
the end a return to obsessive rhythms (Love's Craziness).
The Zemzaris is the most instantly accessible of the four works.
Another varied selection
providing insights into Latvian music - pretty well documented
and superbly recorded. I hope that Angelok1 follow up with at
least several orchestral anthologies.
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