In this edition, we present six distinctive composers who have launched their professional careers since Lithuania gained independence. With the opening of the borders, and the new opportunities that were presented by this, their respective music synchronously fits into the international context in a literal and figurative sense. Four of the respective artists live and create abroad, the rest are always mobile in the globalised world. Nevertheless, what unites them all is the striving towards independent creativity in the context of present-day globalisation.
The sun arises in the East,
Cloth’d in robes of blood and gold;
Swords and spears and wrath increas’d
All around his bosom roll’d,
Crown’d with warlike fires and raging desires.
(Day, William Blake, 1757-1827)
The Romantic ideal of the sublime—that concept of the overwhelming, of terrifying grace, the forces of nature, of violent beauty—has long been an obsession for artists conjuring wild, devastating, beautiful, strange images.
As an aesthetic quality, however, sublimity can be a rare encounter these days. In a cultural climate often tooled for short attention spans and easy gratification, experiences of depth and ambiguity feel increasingly valuable. It’s an invigorating jolt, then, to encounter glimpses and echoes of the sublime in the work of the younger generation of Lithuanian composers represented on this CD. Those featured here all in their own way seem to be grappling with unknowably large ideas and all-consuming materials, to fascinating ends.
Strange and grand forces are at play in these works, both as subject matter and as acoustic matter. Egidija Medekšaitė’s Sattva, for instance, renders a truly tectonic sonic landscape through the cleaving together of accordion and electronics. The visceral breaths and wheezes of that almost physiological instrument resonate with a richness that’s hard to take in—it feels unexpectedly huge in scale. Goda Marija Gužauskaitė’s The Perseids is similarly sheer, with the peculiar quality of always being in motion, always seemingly slipping away from a fixed horizon. Maybe this began long before we started listening, and will continue for long after… It’s no surprise that the piece is inspired by the Perseids meteor shower, its astral debris on an ancient perambulation around our solar system. That orbit becomes, in Ramūnas Motiekaitis’ Katabasis, an archetypal descent—not so much a definitive plummet but a continual searching for direction. There’s a strange, writhing instability that feels anxiously evitable, as if we as listeners might be warping its spatiotemporal fabric ourselves.
Albertas Navickas’ music has been described as being of “serene melancholy”. This is palpable in Sunrise of the West when amidst the sumptuous, shimmering cirrus clouds of sound, the entrance of Eglė Sirvydytė’s strikingly immaculate voice reaches towards a moment of epiphany. By comparison, Rūta Vitkauskaitė and Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s works feel wild and intuitive in their unrestrainedly ambitious scope. Assuming the form of a classical percussion concerto, in Chrysalis Vitkauskaitė seemingly manages to wrench dreamlike and unearthly sounds from the depths of the instruments’ collective unconscious. Martinaitytė aims in her music at a search for meaning vibrating in “every atom of this universe”. In Millefleur we’re offered a glance into the minutiae of that fine, tenuously elemental musical landscape.
But when everything is composed of the same atomic units of matter, what does it mean to recompose that matter into musical performance? The collected works on this CD offer a taste of the answer, describing as they do a hazy, condensing, contemporary afterimage of the sublime. It’s music that inspires fantasy, but it is also robustly manifest; indeed it’s notable that aside from the distinctly organic integration of electronics in Medekšaitė’s work, the pieces collected here are all acoustic. They all require real people, real instruments to be sounded, and to resonate in real spaces. They’re all works that metaphorically and literally cry out into the void (of the concert hall, of your ear canals), and ask us to cry back as sympathetic bodies, as deep listeners, as transforming vessels…
Liner notes: Neil Luck
Sound editing and mastering: Laura Jurgelionytė
English proofreading: Howard Jarvis
Design and layout: Liudas Parulskis
„Zoom in 13“ is supported by LATGA, Lithuanian Council for Culture and Ministry of Culture of Republic of Lithuania.