In the beginning of the 1990s the music of Onutė Narbutaitė became known outside Lithuania through performances of her chamber pieces and large-scale works in various German cities and festivals. Later this window onto wide musical world became for Narbutaitė a true international springboard: she began to receive commissions from the reputable German festivals and institutions. This year Narbutaitė is the first Lithuanian composer to receive a commission from the annual contemporary music series Musica Viva in Munich. Her new symphonic work, La barca, will conclude the latest edition of the series on July 8 premiered by its resident Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under José Serebrier. "One fine day a well-known German critic Christoph Schlüren, whom I knew from very positive reviews of my first discs on Finlandia, called me on the phone," Narbutaitė recalls. "He proposed me to write a piece for the Bavarian Radio Symphony for its Musica Viva series in Munich with which he then collaborated. Gaping of astonishment as I was, I couldn't resist accepting this 'blow of fortune', though I was still coping with a mammoth commission from the Musikfesttage an der Oder and a piece for Arditti Quartet."
The title of the ensuing 15-minute symphonic piece suggests the image of a boat, which sometimes seems to float at full sail under the gusts of wind, sometimes slows down weighed down with sullen basses, or drifts for a while in bright calm bays. The sound of harp, surfacing every now and then, may bear distant allusions to the barcarole. As for the waters, in which her boat sails, Narbutaitė mentions her tonal and atonal experiences, third-based chords and clusters, various gestures, textures and harmonies familiar from her previous works, but interfused in new associative contexts. The state of overall fluidity and homogenous sound prevails here over hard-set melodies or elaborate parts of the soloing instruments, though 'melody' is still forming an apprehensible undercurrent.
La barca will be broadcast live by the Bavarian Radio 4 Klassik. For more details on this event see www.br-online.de/kultur-szene/klassik/pages/mv/. Next Lithuanian composer to receive a commission from the Musica Viva series is Vykintas Baltakas whose new symphonic piece will have its premiere next year, on January 26, performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Peter Eötvös conducting.