Loreta Narvilaitė's Aural Metaphors

Metaphorical, poetically evocative or philosophically perplexing titles of recent works by Loreta Narvilaitė impart her music certain mysteriousness, ineffability, and thereby become a distinctive sign for this young Lithuanian composer. In fact, metaphorical thinking seems to be deeply rooted in Lithuanian culture: visual symbolism of Eimuntas Nekrošius' theatre, silent shots in Šarūnas Bartas' films or signs of pagan rituals in Bronius Kutavičius' works readily come to mind.

photo: Arūnas Baltėnas

On the other hand, behind these seemingly irrational metaphors, almost in all cases, lie rational and logical structures. Such works as Passing Note for fifteen strings (1990), Con variationi for brass quintet (1990) or Nona for organ (1991) reveal the author's predilection for rigorously calculated order based on numerical sequences or graphic lines. Often tagged by the critics as 'sounding mathematics', this music, however, undeniably contains powerful emotional charge. Call-Light (1999) for two trumpets and two pianos, written for the Gaida Festival in 2000, could serve as an example of very successful proportion between the rational and the emotional. The form, idea and even instrumentation of this conceptually consummate and impressive composition are pre-programmed in its very title.

During less than a year, two compositions by Narvilaitė were recorded on two CDs. One of them, with unusually long and slightly erotic title Your Eyelashes Touch the Lips of My Memories, borrowed from the poet Algimantas Mackus, was composed especially for oboist Juozas Rimas' CD "Lithuanian Auletics" (2002), an anthology of Lithuanian oboe music. Neo-romantic monologue of a lonely oboe savours of tender melancholy; the composer takes a step back from rational and structural concerns by admitting the spontaneous way of composing without following the acquired or self-made rules in this particular composition.

A riddling passage - When the Foot-bridge Is Gone I Will Cross the River - from another Lithuanian poet, Sigitas Parulskis, served as a title for a piece written for the Kaskados piano trio in cold winter of 2003. After being played in several Lithuanian towns within a couple of months, this especially performer- and listener-friendly piece was recorded on the latest CD featuring Klaipėda-based composers (2003). According to the author, in this extremely fast music "one can feel needles of frost and constant gusts of wind". Besides, that is the answer to the secret behind the title: "If the foot-bridge is gone, one can cross the river when it is frozen..." Or, more precisely, to cross it by skating in wiggly tracks of minimalist quasi-rondo, stumbling over horrent syncopations, dynamic and articulation humps, or gliding downwind on the smooth surface of glissandi.

Her latest composition, Here Sings the Wind II for oboe and orchestra (2003), awaits its premiere at the Gaida Festival where it will be performed by the celebrated Swedish oboist Helén Jahren and Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under Robertas Šervenikas. Once again, its mysterious title was inspired by the laconic poem of Sigitas Geda where the ambivalence of meaning helps unfold the dimension of eternity in a 'cubist' space of block flats.

Even more clearly, the urbanistic subject is tackled in her symphonic piece entitled Open City (1996) where Loreta Narvilaitė, like Steve Reich, declares her love for contemporary city life, its vertiginous speed and diversity. Open City will be performed during the "Sounds of Sweden" Festival at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall and later in several venues in Sweden by the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra with Lü Jia conducting. This event will conclude the two-year programme of cultural exchange "Sweden-Lithuania, Musical Links 2001-2002".

© Eglė Gudžinskaitė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 7