Another Fruitful Year for Vytautas Barkauskas

photo: Arūnas Baltėnas

Following the success of Vytautas Barkauskas' Duo concertante in Vilnius Festival 2004, the famous Japanese violist Nobuko Imai, who was among the first performers of this double concerto, decided to invite Barkauskas to Japan and include two of his recent pieces in the programme of the Viola Space festival in Tokyo in late May. Both pieces are explicitly connected to Japan through their dedications. Duo concertante, Op. 122, which will receive its Japanese premiere at the Kioi Hall on May 29 performed by Machie Oguri on the violin, Nobuko Imai on the viola, and TOHO-Gakuen Orchestra with Tatsuya Shimono on the conductor's pulpit, is dedicated to the celebrated Japanese diplomats and humanists Chiune Sugihara and his wife Yukiko who resided in Lithuania at the outbreak of WWII. The subtle Japanese tone can be also felt in the work's suggestively mysterious percussion sound. The second piece, Two Monologues for viola solo, Op. 71, will be performed the day before by Nobuko Imai herself to whom this composition is dedicated. A completely rewritten version of the Barkauskas' 1983 piece was premiered by its dedicatee at the Schiermonnikoog festival in Holland last year. An intimate self-talk conveyed in the first monologue is filled with inner doubts and persistent efforts to escape the vicious circle of perniciously obsessive thoughts, which finally bring the melodic development to a full stop. The second monologue offers a way out in sweet love illusion, but the recurrent interval of tritone makes things linger in unresolvedness and uncertainty. "As it is in life", Barkauskas adds: "The velvety richness of the viola's lower register, and incredibly distant mysterious upper notes obtain human warmth, sensitivity and spiritual depth in the Nobuko Imai's interpretation. I hope this work will surely have its life in her hands."

Vytautas Barkauskas has written a good deal of works inspired by or based on the paintings of M. K. Čiurlionis. Probably the best known of these are three Legends About Čiurlionis for piano solo. This summer will see perhaps the most monumental contribution of Barkauskas to commemoration of Čiurlionis 130th Anniversary. The portrait concert of Barkauskas' works is for the second year in a row included in the programme of the annual Druskininkai Summer with M. K. Čiurlionis, and among choral works will feature the premiere of his Summer. Druskininkai, 2005 – a half-hour mystery play for organ, reciter, soprano, mixed choir and 4 instruments. The inspiration for this piece came not from Čiurlionis' paintings but from his writings which express his wishes and dreams, sadness and joy, and in which memories often combine with fantastic visions. The text in Lithuanian is also used in the piece, while the music, according to Barkauskas, is closest to one of Čiurlionis' aphorisms which says that "Love is a footway to the sun paved with razor-sharp diamonds on which you have to walk barefoot."

The autumn will yield another premiere of Barkauskas, which will be performed by the renowned Camerata Salzburg at the Amadeus Festival, Geneva.

© Veronika Janatjeva

Lithuanian Music Link No. 10