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A DIFFERENT WORLD
Diana Galvydyte & Christopher Guild

 

 

 
1. Barkauskas, Vytautas [00:57]
Partita for solo violin Op.12 - i - Praeludium

2. Barkauskas, Vytautas [01:35]
Partita for solo violin Op.12 - ii - Scherzo

3. Barkauskas, Vytautas [02:28]
Partita for solo violin Op.12 - iii - Grave

4. Barkauskas, Vytautas [01:29]
Partita for solo violin Op.12 - iv - Toccata

5. Barkauskas, Vytautas [01:40]
Partita for solo violin Op.12 -v - Postludium

6. Balsys, Eduardas [03:46]
Rauda (Lament) for violin and piano

7. Balsys, Eduardas [01:55]
Drebulyte Isdykele (Mischievous Drebulyte)

8. Schittino, Joe [10:26]
Poem 'Egle' for violin and piano

9. Salonen, Esa-Pekka [09:42]
Lachen Verlernt for violin solo

10. Sher, Veniamin [06:15]
Concert Piece for violin and piano

11. Sher, Veniamin [03:58]
Scherzo for violin solo

12. Macmillan, James [02:47]
After the Tryst

13. Macmillan, James [07:08]
A Different World

14. Watkins, Huw [04:02]
Partita for solo violin - i - Maestoso

15. Watkins, Huw [01:08]
Partita for solo violin - ii - Lento ma non troppo

16. Watkins, Huw [04:17]
Partita for solo violin - iii - Lento

17. Watkins, Huw [00:55]
Partita for solo violin - iv - Comodo

18. Watkins, Huw [04:42]
Partita for solo violin - v - Allegro molto

19. Bacewicz, Grazyna [01:53]
Caprice for violin and piano

20. Bacewicz, Grazyna [02:59]
Humoresque for violin and piano

21. Bacewicz, Grazyna [02:00]
Oberek I for violin and piano

Artist(s):
Diana Galvydyte, VIolin
Christopher Guild, Piano

Featuring exuberant young violinist and pianist Diana Galvydyte and Christopher Guild, this exciting new release brings together an incredible set of works by Eastern European, Italian and British composers, many of whom are alive and still composing to this day.

Italian composer Joe Schittino’s Poem ‘Eglč’ is based on the Lithuanian folk tale of Eglč the Serpent Queen, and is a world premiere recording on this disc. Violinist Diana Galvydyte was born in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1984, and grew up close to this folk-tale and its symbolism. The story - the best-known Lithuanian fairy tale - is considered one of the richest in references of Baltic mythology.
Eduardas Balsys, the influential Lithuanian composer, wrote a ballet in 1960 based on the same story, and it is this score from which ‘Lament’ and ‘Mischievous Drebulytč’ are taken.

Two fabulous works by Scottish composer James Macmillan also feature - After the Tryst is a setting of William Soutar’s love poem which he originally wrote to sing with a folk band, whilst A Different World is a musical yearning for a dream world in which lovers’ wishes might be fulfilled.
Huw Watkins, one of the UK’s most sought after pianists and composers, wrote his beautiful and virtuosic Partita for solo violin in 2006.

With other excellent works by conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, Graźyna Bacewicz, Venjamin Sher, and Vytautas Barkauskas, this disc is an exciting exploration of contemporary works for solo violin and violin & piano.


 

 


The cult of the instrumental virtuoso dates from the early 19th century, when the burgeoning Romantic movement started to see preternaturally gifted instrumentalists as a species of magician, able to conjure music out of the air as if by magic, and move audiences to extremes of emotion and excitement by the deep expressiveness and amazing technical bravura of their playing. The archetypal figure who bestowed this image on players of the violin was of course Niccolò Paganini, but the tradition of the virtuoso violin showpiece has persisted throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. The present recital is devoted largely to bravura violin works from the mid-20th century onwards, and mostly to those produced by composers from the Baltic region, alternating and contrasting works for unaccompanied violin with those for violin and piano.

Vytautas Barkauskas is currently regarded as one of the most notable senior Lithuanian composers, having come to prominence in the 1960s as one of the country’s most active avant-garde musicians. (At that time music in Lithuania was much invigorated by the emergence of the Polish avant-garde in the Warsaw Autumn Festivals of the late 1950s, and Barkausas has acknowledged Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti as important influences.) He has written six symphonies, much chamber and piano music and several important works for string instruments, including two violin concertos. The Partita for solo violin, Op.12 dates from 1967 and has become one of Barkauskas’s most widely- performed works. Exuberant and stylistically varied, its five short movements make use of 20th-century dance forms – rumba, blues, and beguine – in a Baroque format. The brief Praeludium surprises with its wide, espressive leaps; the following Scherzo is highly rhythmic, almost obsessional. The heart of the piece is the Grave slow movement, in which blues accents mingle with hints of the Dies Irae chant and move to a plangently emotional outcry. The ensuing Toccata is a fusillade of the characteristic repeated-note figures of its genre and flamboyant rhythmic writing, which the Postludium reprises and then develops the materials of the first movement, with spooky tremolo writing and flautando harmonics.

The son of a Lithuanian father and a Volga German mother, Eduardas Balsys (1919- 1984) was born in the Ukraine and moved back to Lithuania as a child, where in his teens he became renowned as a gymnast, footballer and basketball player before starting to compose during World War II. As well as being a respected teacher at the Conservatory of the Lithuanian SSR in Vilnius, he was one of the most talented Lithuanian composers of the post-war generation, prolific in most genres, including a large number of film scores. Even though he spent his most productive years in the period of Soviet regime, Balsys always preserved high artistic standards, and he was one of the most influential figures in the post-Stalinist resurgence of Lithuanian music, a leader of the stylistic breakthrough of the 1960s.

The haunting Rauda (Lament) for violin and piano and the capricious, brilliant and witty Drebulytè Išdykélè (Asp, the Mischief-Maker) are arrangements of episodes in Balsys’s ballet Egle zalciu karaliene (Eglè, Queen of Serpents), which was composed in 1960. The title is that of perhaps the oldest, most famous of Lithuanian fairy- tales, which tells of the girl Eglè who after bathing finds a snake in her clothes who will only leave if she pledges herself to him. Eventually thousands of snakes emerge from the sea and take her to their master, the (human) Serpent Prince who was also the grass snake who crept into her clothes. They marry and have children, including a daughter Drebulytè (Asp) and live in a beautiful palace beneath the
sea. When Eglè returns to land to visit her family, her 12 brothers try to keep her from returning to the sea and persuade Drebulytè to tell them how to call her husband onto land. When he comes looking for his wife they murder him; when Eglè finds out she transforms herself and her children into trees (Eglè means spruce).

That same ancient Lithuanian myth also inspired the Italian composer Joe Schittino in composing his 2011 Poem ‘Eglè’ for violin and piano. Schittino was born in Syracuse, Sicily in 1977 and studied in Catania (from whose university he graduated in classics with a thesis on prehistoric archeology) and in Rome, where he was a student of Azio Corghi and Ivan Fedele. Extremely prolific, Schittino’s music is characterized by a completely non-doctrinaire attitude to style and idiom

and is generally characterized by its eclecticism, wit, jaunty good humour, brevity, melodic charm and versatility – and its fine craftsmanship, all of which are on display in the remarkable attractive Poem. At ten minutes in length, this is a fairly substantial piece that seems to reflect impressions of various episodes in the story. It opens lyrically with the sounds of water in the piano’s fluid accompaniment, but grows more dramatic and virtuosic. A cadenza-like solo for the violin underpinned only by isolated bass notes from the piano leads to a lively, scherzo-like episode and a climax in the echoes of which the violin meditates in melancholic double- stopping. A calmer coda brings back the opening music, but in transfigured form.

The Finn Esa-Pekka Salonen, born in Helsinki, is best known internationally as an orchestral conductor and, in that role, as a leading exponent of contemporary music, but he has composed throughout his career and his works are becoming increasingly better-known. Indeed, he first studied conducting in order to be able to conduct his own music. After early studies in Finland he was a pupil of Franco Donatoni and Niccolò Castiglioni in Italy during 1979-81. Salonen has voiced his dislike of ideological or stylistically prescriptive approaches to composition. He views music as profoundly physical, and has even declared that ‘Musical expression is bodily expression, there is no abstract cerebral expression in my opinion. It all comes out of the body’.

Lachen verlernt was composed in 2002 and premiered in August of that year by the violinist Cho-Liang Lin at the La Jolla SummerFest in California. The title – ‘laughing unlearnt’ comes from the poem by Albert Guiraud translated into German as ‘Gebet an Pierrot’ and set, in 1912, by Arnold Schoenberg as the ninth movement of his melodrama Pierrot Lunaire. The narrator has lost the gift of laughter and implores Pierrot, as ‘horse-doctor to the soul’, to restore it. Salonen felt these lines as a ‘moving metaphor of a performer: a serious clown trying to help the audience to connect with emotions they have lost, or believe they have lost’. He has described Lachen verlernt as essentially a Chaconne, in that ‘there is a harmonic progression that repeats itself several times. The harmony remains the

same throughout the whole piece; only the surface, the top layer of the music changes’.

The work begins with a long lyrical melody, rather like an incantation; as the melody develops, ruminative lyrical episodes give way to grating, obsessively repeated riffs and arpeggios. Scalic passages with occasional ponticello bowing produce a glassy tone and alternate with sul tasto or natural bowing as the music becomes faster and faster, accelerating at last to a frenzied climax, ‘as if the imaginary narrator had reached a state of utter despair’. Lachen verlernt then closes with a very short, but peaceful coda.

The Russian-Jewish violinist and composer Veniamin Iosifovich Sher (1900-1962) was one of the last pupils of the great Leopold Auer, who really established the Russian school of violin playing in the 19th century. Sher himself became a renowned teacher, his many pupils including Vladimir Spivakov. As a composer he wrote a wide range of chamber music, some concertos, and a large series of virtuoso etudes, many of which are greatly prized by violinists. His Scherzo for unaccompanied violin, from the fateful year 1947 when the leading Soviet composers fell foul of the campaign against ‘Western anti-people formalism’ promulgated by Stalin’s henchman Andrei Zhdanov, is an exceptionally brilliant piece in ternary form which could well – at least in its outer sections – be regarded as a study in fast perpetuum mobile playing. The coruscating stream of notes in these opening and closing portions flit and dance like a capricious firefly. The central section forms a trio to the scherzo, a melancholic, folk-inflected song.

Sher’s Concert Piece for violin and piano was written three years later, but sounds earlier, with a lyrical, almost salon-style romantic quality. The main melodic line, however, is refined and bittersweet in feeling, while the piano’s harmonies develop an impressionistic tendency. Suddenly a flamboyant outcry from the violin introduces a busy contrasting section, again in perpetuum mobile style. It is short- lived, but forms a highly effective foil to the transfigured reprise of the opening material. Towards the end both ideas appear in counterpoint.

The Scot James MacMillan is now generally recognized as one of the most important composers working in Britain, and is also internationally active as a conductor. After the Tryst, which has become one of his most-played short pieces, has its origins in a setting – in the style of an old Scottish ballad – of a piercingly lyrical love poem, ‘The Tryst’, by the early 20th-century Scots poet William Soutar, which MacMillan made in 1984 and sang around Scotland in bars and folk clubs with his folk group, Broadstone. According to the composer, ‘The composition and performances of this song made a lasting impression on me as it felt as if I had tapped into a deep reservoir of shared tradition as my setting was quite faithful to the old ballad style’. In 1988 he began to develop this music into ‘something else’ – the result being After the Tryst, which develops and ornaments the song’s melodic line to create a highly expressive (and virtuosic) miniature while still adhering to the original harmonic outline, which remains quietly in the background in the piano’s simple, arpeggiated chords. MacMillan continued to work with this material in his ensemble works Búsqueda and Tryst.

A Different World dates from 1995, and relates to the opera Inès de Castro on which MacMillan was then working. The opera is based on the tragic story of the 14th- century love of Pedro, the crown prince of Portugal for the beautiful Inès. Their union is forbidden by his father the King; they are kept apart and eventually Inès is assassinated – when Pedro comes top the throne he has Inès’s body exhumed and enthroned along with him. A Different World relates to some of the opera’s love music, where ‘there is a yearning for an imaginary world where the lovers’ dreams might be fulfilled, far from the political and military intrigues which lead to their violent separation’. The mood of the piece is one of yearning: there are allusions to plainsong and Passion chorales, but also to the free cantillation of Gaelic psalm- singing, which imparts a dreamlike atmosphere that is shattered by the violent, obsessive coda.

Currently Professor of Composition at London’s Royal College of Music, Huw Watkins was born in South Wales and studied in Cambridge and London with

Alexander Goehr, Robin Holloway and Julian Anderson; since about 2000 he has established himself as one of the most talented of younger British composers. (He is also a fine pianist, who often plays in a duo with his brother, the cellist Paul Watkins.) His Partita for solo violin was composed for the violinist Alina Ibragimova, who gave the premiere at London’s Wigmore Hall on 4 November 2006 (she also subsequently premiered Watkins’s Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms) and is very much a virtuoso work. As in Barkauskas’s Partita there are five movements, essentially transforming Baroque models, but the layout is very different. Watkins’s work begins Maestoso with a dissonant, intense prelude that immediately puts the violin through its paces, with massive triple- and quadruple-stopped chords, intricate figuration, playing in harmonics and pizzicati, as well as expressive melody. It is that last quality, of expressive melodic playing, that comes to the fore in the next three movements, which could really be considered a single ternary-form slow movement. The first of them (the second movement) is a brief but beautifully sculpted aria. The third movement then starts almost as a continuation of the second, but becomes much more wide-ranging and exploratory, creating the most lyrically relaxed space in the work. The fourth movement is then a varied reprise of the second. The fifth and final movement is an energetic and highly rhythmic affair

which the composer has described as ‘a very fast, relentless gigue’. .

Grazyna Bacewicz (1906-1969), was born in Poland of mixed Lithuanian and Polish parentage. (Her brother, the composer Vytatuas Bacevicius, returned to Lithuania and became that country’s first conscious musical modernist; Grazyna remained in Poland and took the Polish form of the family name.) Her persistent cultivation of chamber music, a genre deplored by the post-war Stalinist regime in Poland, took courage and character and resulted in some of her most impressive achievements. She was not only a first-rank violinist (she premiered the first four of her seven violin concertos herself) but she now seems a significant linking figure between the idioms of Szymanowski and Lutosławski. As an elder contemporary of Lutosławski, Bacewicz trod a similar path, developing from a folklore-oriented neoclassicism distinctly influenced by Bartók to a freer, more dissonant, collage-like approach in the wake of the cultural freeing-up occasioned by the Warsaw Autumn festivals. She died comparatively young, yet her music’s international reputation has been slowly but steadily on the rise.

The three short works performed here, from the Stalinist period, show her principled and vital approach to folk material. Even in their brief space it is possible to appreciate Bacewicz’s intimate understanding of the violin. The Caprice is volatile, with mosquito-like tremolos, but carried forward constantly by a half-submerged waltz-rhythm. The enchanting Humoresque has more of a lively folk-dance feel, with sidelong Bartókian chromaticism and percussive piano writing. Finally the Oberek, also based on a folk-dance rhythm, has a gleefully repetitious character, like a children’s singing game.

Malcolm MacDonald



Park Lane Group Young Artists Purcell Room

'From the point of view of rounded, fully achieved performance the duet of violinist Diana Galvydyte and pianist Christopher Guild were the highlight of the series’ first two days. Anthony Payne’s beautifully crafted duet pieces could seem dry, but these performers revealed their coiled energy and flashes of melodic grace.'

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, January 2012

'The elegiac whorls and eddies of Anthony Payne's Footfalls Echo in the Memory and Of Knots and Skeins fitted neatly under the fingers of pianist Christopher Guild and flattered violinist Diana Galvydyte's rich, incisive sound. Playing unaccompanied in Thomas Oehler's rhapsodic The Great Refusal and Esa-Pekka Salonen's curving, keening chaconne, Lachen Verlernt, Galvydyte displayed a range of colours and a sense of line that could easily adapt to Sciarrino, Sibelius, Bartok, Biber or Brahms. A name to remember and, in the Salonen, a work to relish.'

Anna Picard, The Independent, January 2012

   
   

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