In the last issue of Lithuanian Music Link we wrote about the two works of Bronius Kutavičius released in spring this year by the Finnish label Ondine. Both compositions didn't pass unnoticed and received intriguing criticisms.
The ClassicsToday.com reviewer compared Last Pagan Rites to the early music of Steve Reich, 'an exhibition of what many other minimalist and pseudo avant-garde composers were doing at the time: exploring the nature of organised musical sound and human perception.' According to him, the sound-world of oratorio Last Pagan Rites, written in 1978 'recalls all of the best and worst aspects of so-called minimalist movement that alternately fascinated and distracted musicians and delighted and confounded audiences during the latter 20th century.'
The Epitaphium temporum pereunti received more favourable opinion of the critic: 'Here orchestra joins the proceedings, a foray into the territory of lengthier, far more developed melodic ideas and a stronger, more compelling rhythmic pulse. This four-movement piece offers huge dynamic contrasts and wide variety of colour and textual effects,' writes ClassicsToday.com. 'The final section, Dedicatio Ecclesiae Cathedrali, Anno 1988, a tribute to the reconsecration of the cathedral in Vilnius, manages to skilfully assemble its ideas and present them compellingly enough that you're left believing that this composer may have something to say after all.'
According to BBC Music Magazine, 'the mystical timelessness of the Last Pagan Rites (1978) is arresting: Oh you green grasshopper moves smoothly between mesmeric restraint and thrilling power. Meanwhile, the mantra-style repetitions in the Celebration of the Medvėgalis Hill are as persuasively involving as the snake hissing in the Incantation of the Serpent is deliciously threatening. The dreamy stasis of the haunting final movement, Celebration of the Oak Tree, seals this moving impression of ancient ritual with compelling intensity.
Epitaphium temporum pereunti (1998) illustrates key events in the history of Lithuania's capital Vilnius with more complex compositional techniques. In the first section (Anno 1323) the musicians paint a vivid image of the chaotic unfriendly landscape of the distant past. Atmospheric ostinati bring order in part two (Anno 1579), depicting the founding of the University of Vilnius. Increasing dissonance, excellently judged in both pace and dynamics by Šervenikas, adumbrates the mournful lament in part three. A soothing and peaceful ending signals Lithuania's triumphant rebirth and the reconsecration of the Cathedral in 1988.'
Both reviewers underlined the high performance standard and a first rate sound.
Lithuanian Music Link No. 3
Bronius Kutavičius: Last Pagan Rites
Last Pagan Rites for soprano, organ, 4 horns and choir / Epitaphium temporum pereunti for mixed choir and symphony orchestra
Gintarė Skerytė (soprano), Leopoldas Digrys (organ), Mindaugas Budzinauskas, Linas Dakinevičius, Loranas Gadeikis, Mindaugas Pupeikis (horns), Choir of M. K. Čiurlionis High Arts School, cond. Romualdas Gražinis, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Kaunas State Choir, cond. Robertas Šervenikas
Ondine ODE 972-2, 2001