Barkauskas website: www.mxl.lt/barkauskas
This is the sequel to Avie
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.