Raminta Šerkšnytė

De profundis

Year of composition: 1998
Duration: 12′
Instrumentation: str orch


Released recordings:
CD Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre LMIPCCD007, 1999
CD Vortex. Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre LMIPCCD049, 2007
CD Gidon Kremer - De Profundis. Nonesuch 287228-2, 2010
CD 30 Druskomanijos akimirkų. - Vilnius, Lithuanian Composers' Union LKSCD006-009, 2014
CD Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Going for the Impossible - A Portrait. - Deutsche Grammophon, 00289 483 7761, 2019

Premiere: 16 May 1998, at the Holy Virgin Mary Scapular Church in Druskininkai
Youth Chamber Music Days Festival
Performers: St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra, conductor Donatas Katkus

Programme notes:
It is a highly expressive monothematic piece of three sections, dominated by a gloomy and dramatic mood. Its basis – an interval of minor third and a symmetric rhythm formula based on sixteenth-notes. Twelve notes are divided into two equivalent modi, which mostly sound separate. The first and second sections are of rapid tempo (Allegro molto, Presto), an impetuous, restless character and of a motor movement growing in intensity, which reaches unexpected climax – short chords and long rests (rests become more important than a sound). In the recapitulation (Allegro. Adagio) the initial movement acquires another meaning – without its impetuosity, it sounds like a painful farewell music. And it is here that choral episode appears. After equirhythmical phrases of the whole orchestra, calls and responses of separate instruments should sound as it some sinking from the present into the past.

Raminta Šerkšnytė

It was the composer‘s Bachelor’s diploma work. In this early work, Raminta Šerkšnytė’s aim was to display a wide range of sound production possibilities on strings in various orchestral textures, such as thick harmonies and multiple divisi of strings, which alternates, time and again, with four-voice counterpoint or unisonous lines, while the leading role is given to each time different group of instruments. All this variety is nonetheless derived from some basic constructive principles – above all, from the composer’s favourite scale (which also appears in many of her later works), composed of minor thirds and minor seconds, which expands remarkably the range of harmonic possibilities (such as various symmetrical divisions of the scale, incorporation of all 12 tones of the chromatic scale, and simultaneous combination of major and minor harmonies). Especially noteworthy is the unusual treatment of the central climax: the increasingly faster and louder movement is followed with silence, which becomes more important than the sound – as if alluding to the transience of human existence. De profundis – a cry from the depths – is all that remains.

Linas Paulauskis


Press Quotes:
"... We were treated to what might appear to be a smorgasbord of shorter works but was actually a well-chosen menu of works from the group's recently released CD De Profundis... The set began with the young (b. 1975) Lithuanian female composer Raminta Šerkšnytė's "De profundis" (1998); it immediately captured the attention and curiosity of the audience. Insect-like chirpings morphed into cascades of glissandi with rapid tremolos and icy ponticello effects, eventually yielding to a muscular rapid section which, with its many repeated notes, recalled Stravinsky's Concerto in D for Strings. This complex dramatic 12-minute work, played without a conductor, eventually faded away into the depths whence it had emerged, but not before it had made a powerful impression on the audience."

– Peter Perret, „Gidon Kremer and Baltic Strings Superb at Wake Forest University," Classical Voice of North Carolina, 9 November 2010

"The title track from Raminta Šerkšnytė is a real discovery, moving and life-affirming at once."

– Steven Ritter, "I don't know what to say—beauty such as this requires no words", Audiophile Audition, 30 September 2010 (a 5-star review of the Kremerata Baltica CD De Profundis on Nonesuch)

"The orchestra's latest album for Nonesuch, De profundis, takes its title from Psalm 130, with its anguished opening line, 'Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.' Even by Kremer's standards this might at first appear and eclectic programme, offsetting the likes of Sibelius, Schubert and Schumann with Nyman's Trysting Fields and Pelecis's Flowering Jasmine. At the heart of the recital is the title work, De profundis, by the young Lithuanian composer Raminta Šerkšnytė, who conjures up a profoundly meditative atmosphere via a sequence of hypnotic, ear-tweaking sonorities."

– Julian Haylock, "Gidon Kremer. Sonic pioneer, spiritual explorer," The Strad, October 2010

Score sample
Audio sample

De profundis