After recently winning the highest national distinction, the Lithuanian National Award 2003, for Violin Concerto Jeux (2002) and a number of other distinguished works of past and recent years, Vytautas Barkauskas shows no intention to rest on his well-deserved laurels. He continues to prove his exceptional vitality by accepting several new proposals and commissions from both national and international events during this summer and fall. His Duo concertante for violin, viola and orchestra, Op. 122, is due to premiere on June 27 at the Vilnius Festival, performed by his newly found congenial collaborator, violinist Philippe Graffin (who was also the first performer of the award-winning Jeux in 2002), violist Nobuko Imai and Vilnius Festival Orchestra, with Robertas Šervenikas conducting. "Being intensely expressive and dramatically contrasting, like most of my concert pieces, the five-part Duo concertante represents an intermediary genre between an instrumental concerto and a suite", says Barkauskas. Delicately tinted with Mozartian concertante style, it showcases a virtuoso interplay between the individual sections of the orchestra, of which percussion is often placed in a spotlight, and the leading soloists. The violin part was especially written for Philippe Graffin, whom Barkauskas praises as a musician endowed with great sensitivity to phrasing as well as artistic suggestiveness and emotional warmth, foiled with finest technical craft. "Perhaps this could explain why his interpretations are constantly winning my ardent approval."
Another newly written piece, marked Op. 121, will be premiered later this year by the Kaunas String Quartet during the Thomas Mann Festival in Nida on July 14. Following the theme of this year's festival devoted to Thomas Mann's relationship with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Barkauskas fulfilled this commission by writing a 10-minute quartet piece entitled Summer 2004. Nida. "While listening to this music, one can imagine Johann Sebastian Bach dropping by to visit Thomas Mann in his snug little summer house in Nida", suggests Barkauskas. "But instead of patching my own music with bits of Bach's vintage fabrics, I rather tried to evoke an atmosphere of a languid summer afternoon."
Vytautas Barkauskas remains one of the most well-known composers outside of Lithuania. Quite a number of his earlier works have taken root in 'active playlists' of the renowned international performers (such as Gidon Kremer, Ilya Kaler, Pekka Kussisto, Yuri Bashmet, David Geringas and many others) and have been published by the Edition Peters since 1971. Among the editions of this reputable company is also Barkauskas' Konzertstück Nr. 2 (1996) that has been selected by the European Union Youth Orchestra for two performances in Vilnius and Kaunas in honour of Lithuania's accession to the European Union. Conducted by Paavo Järvi, these concerts are slated for August 9 and 10. Thereafter Barkauskas is invited as a guest composer to the Schiermonnikoog festival in the Netherlands (October 2-7). Its programme includes 5 performances of his works, meetings, talks and a commission for 8 cellos and dramatic coloratura soprano.
Lithuanian Music Link No. 8