PETERIS VASKS (b.1946): String Quartets No. 2 “Summer Tunes” and No. 5.

Catalogue Number: 08S051

Label: Wergo

Reference: WER 7329 2

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: The Fifth Quartet is an example of the direction that Vasks' music has taken since he first achieved widespread recognition for his intensely spiritual and humanitarian works. In a lot of ways this sounds more like 'conventional' neo-romanticism than the 'new simplicity' or 'new spirituality' movements, in that musical ideas expressing contradictory sides of an argument are developed in dialogue that clearly resembles the interplay of themes in classical/romantic forms. In the first movement the confrontation of injustice and adversity is represented by the conflict between a sorrowful, but hopeful theme and an agitated, disruptive one plays out in a manner very reminiscent of the development of a sonata-form movement, the fast material becoming ever more strident, culminating in the work's few discords that transcend the work's traditional harmonic vocabulary. By complete contrast, the second movement, a dreamlike ideal vision of what the world could be like if these conflicts could be resolved is a lovely, heartfelt adagio of Schubertian sweetness and calm, tinged with a gentle melancholy. Brief memories of the first movement resurface, now resolved into the radiant tranquility of the coda's atmosphere of 'light-filled sorrow; one cycle has ended, and we coninue to live' in the composer's words. The Second, from 1984, combines very simple material with somewhat extended-timbre nature sounds to depict the natural world and humankind's relationship with it, a recurring theme in Vasks' output. The second movement is a consonant cacophony of birdsong, the third an impassioned elegy reflecting on our impact on nature. Spīkeru String Quartet.


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