Finlandia Records Introduces Music by Onutė Narbutaitė

Onutė Narbutaitė's music has recently been experiencing a real breakthrough on the recording market - particularly since the very positive critical responses to "Sinfonia col triangolo", released by Finlandia Records (3984-29718-2). The Finnish recording company is now taking on the risk of a long-term project of four CDs of the composer's works. Bearing in mind that generating a focus on contemporary music is a tremendous challenge for any record market, this introduction of a new repertoire is a significant step for the company.

"I heard Onutė Narbutaitė's music for the first time in 1995 when we recorded her Opus lugubre," said Finlandia Records executive producer Jari Tiessalo. "The piece was strong, lyrical and sad - a strange, yet personal mixture of different elements that are so typical of her music. Although Narbutaitė's style is very different from that of the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, the fact that they are both female really makes a difference: it is the 'secret' ingredient that makes their compositions so special."

The first of the four album series - "Autumn Ritornello" (0927-42996-2) - will appear this April. It presents Onutė Narbutaitė's chamber works, and reveals the composer's predilection for creating music in the sphere of associations with composers from the past. The short piece entitled Winterserenade (1997) for flute, violin, and viola has clear connotations to Schubert's music, with all its sadness and anxiety. Mozartsommer 1991 for flute, violin, viola, and harpsichord, according to the composer, is akin to "a totally authentic mosaic of the sounds of Mozart". More developed is the half-hour Autumn Ritornello. Hommage à Fryderyk (1999) for violin, viola, cello, and piano; in it the composer moulds her own musical plasticity on a foundation of Chopin's melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, and textural details. The Eight-String (1986) for violin and viola is dissonant, and in the composer's words, "somewhat bristly"; the aphoristic Hoquetus (1993) for viola, cello, and double-bass is a charming tapestry of fragile, transparent, sometimes nearly disintegrating music. The inspiration for the production of this compact disc, violist Audronė Pšibilskienė, has brought together excellent Lithuanian performers for the recording.

The second disc - "Gate of Oblivion" (0927-43072-2) - is dedicated to Onutė Narbutaitė's music for strings, and will come out in the autumn. It features new renditions of her Second (1980) and Third (1991) string quartets, by the Vilnius String Quartet, and two works for string orchestra - Opus lugubre (1991) and Sinfonia col triangolo (1996) - performed by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Juha Kangas.

To be released at the same time is a recording entitled "June Music" (0927-43437-2), which includes chamber works written during four separate periods in the composer's life: Interludium (1983) for flute, cello, and organ; June Music 1981 for violin and cello; Climber (1988) for two pianos; and Monogramme (1992) for percussion ensemble. This compact disc is also recorded by Lithuanian performers, many of whom were the first to play these particular works by Onutė Narbutaitė.

The project will end with Onutė Narbutaitė's new Symphony No.2, due to appear in 2003. According to Jari Tiessalo, "recording and promoting Narbutaitė's music is a joy and a privilege. We will have three CDs by the autumn of 2002. But the best is yet to come, in 2003: her Second Symphony is a masterpiece!"

© Daiva Parulskienė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 4