PĒTERIS VASKS (b.1946): Lonely Angel, Episodi e canto perpetuo, Plainscapes.
Catalogue Number: 03V060
Reference: ODE 1343-2
Description: The 1985 trio, like many of Vasks' works, depicts a spiritual journey from despair through suffering into faith and love. The melodic last part, building an overwhelming climax, is the closest to the kind of music Vasks became best known for in more recent works (though even this is more chromatic and late-Romantic in style), but the previous 'episodes' contain passages of hectic, even violent energy, and extended instrumental effects which Vasks has used much more sparingly in recent years. Dedicated to Messiaen, the work is in eight strongly contrasting sections, some mysterious and dissonant, others resembling harsh bell-like chorales, and something of Messiaen's harmonic thinking is apparent in places. The rhythmic influence of the dedicatee is especially apparent in the vigorous 'unisoni' and 'burlesca' movements, where we hear the influence of the frenetic motion of dance movements like Joie du sang des étoiles, Regard de l'esprit de joie, or the sixth movement of the Quatuor pour le fin du temps, an obvious model for Vasks' work. This new transcription of Lonely Angel is essentially a beautifully crafted reduction of the highly effective version that the composer made for violin and string orchestra in 2006 for Gideon Kremer. The idea of a guardian angel as a sad figure grieving with its human charges is an unexpected and moving one, and the work's unbroken line of melody, drawing on the folksong and vocal traditions of Latvia, is both consoling and desperately sad. Vasks transcribed Plainscapes - originally for violin, cello and chorus (02N079) - in 2011. The piece is classic 'new spirituality' Vasks, except that here the inspiration is the landscape of the Latvian lowlands, "the Zemgale plains, [where] you see the starry sky right span to the horizon. It is past comprehension, but I almost want to embrace the unembraceable." Latvian folksong and imitation of birdsongs as vivid as Messiaen's illuminate the overwhelming climax of this sonorous, resonant, ecstatic work. Trio Palladio.