EVENTS. Rytis Mažulis' New Work Premiered in Ghent

"Mažulis is a composer whose music I really want to bring into focus; and it should definitely be better known in the world," claims Patric de Clerck, a Flemish composer, concert producer and executive of the record company Megadisc Classics. A concrete plan has already been started to implement: his record company released two CDs of Mažulis' music; first release, Cum essem parvulus comprises four of his choral works, and the second, Twittering Machine, a further quartet of pieces, this time for computer-controlled mechanical piano. A third release, featuring acoustic microtonal music, is to be released shortly.

photo: Dmitry Matveyev

The latest piece by Rytis Mažulis, Form is Emptiness, has also appeared with Patrick de Clerck giving a shot in the arm: he requested a new piece to be premiered at the concert by the regular partners of the composer, Latvian Radio Chamber Singers, at Handelsbeurs venue in Ghent on April 22. The programme will also feature the Flemish cellist Arne Deforce; the new opus by Mažulis is resourcefully fit next to the works by Josquin des Prés, Phill Niblock, Mārtiŋš Viļums, Giacinto Scelsi and Nicolas Gombert.

The composer labelled as "superminimalist" and "machinist" limits his music to the single technique of canon. His work can be encapsulated by the oxymorons like 'minimalist maximalism', or 'complex simplicity', or 'dynamic stasis'. Having little concern for performers' needs and abilities, his pure, intellectually constructed music leaves few of the listeners indifferent: it is either praised or openly despised. Notwithstanding that, he applies his technique with impressive consistency and explores numerous ways of and transformation of the key idea of canon. 'Diverse uniformity' is one more paradoxical characteristic of Rytis Mažulis' music.

In his new piece Form is Emptiness for 12 voices, cello and electronics the composer further explores microtonal structures and produces, this time, radical extended 'rows' of pitches consisting of a succession of 360 notes (i.e. 12 tempered semitones divided into 30 particles) and redistributed using Messiaen-like interversion technique, leaving aside precise rhythmic and temporal organisation. All these technological manipulations are sure to become a challenge to performers, and to the audience, usually not to be bought by technological tricks, it is going to be a real decoy to plunge into specific Mažulis' acoustic rituals.

The critics feel equally challenged by his music. "Take note of this Lithuanian," Grant Chu Covell says in La Folia Online Music Review and highlights Cum essem parvulus released by Megadisc Classics as one of the most interesting releases of the year 2004.

The Musicweb critic Hubert Culot claims: "Mažulis' music, as heard here, is ritualistic in its own way. It displays a keen ear for beguiling textures and a considerably imaginative ability to build on the age-old canon form. [...] Not easy stuff, quite unlike anything else I have been able to listen to up to now: thought-provoking or overtly provocative, but well worth trying. Mažulis' music inhabits a world entirely of its own."

© Daiva Parulskienė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 12