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On the Bridge

On the Bridge

  • By Ilona Kudina
  • Release 04/07/2006
  • Media Format CD
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Price: £17.15

Product Notes

Annotations by musicologist Janis Kudins and Baiba Kaugars. This CD encompasses chamber music by eleven Latvian composers, past and present, from around the world. The idea for such a compilation occurred to flutist Ilona Kudina several years ago, after she had worked a number of stylistically striking compositions for the flute by Latvian composers living abroad into her repertoire, as she felt that they merited the attention of a wider audience. On the Bridge presents works created by several generations of Latvian composers while residing outside Latvia and reflects a range of esthetic orientations and traditions. Janis Medins (1890-1966) and Helmers Pavasars (1903-1998) developed their creative careers in Latvia during the 1920s and '30s. At the end of World War II, along with many other members of the Latvian intelligentsia, they went into exile in the West, where thousands of East European refugees were housed in displaced persons camps in Germany before resettlement to other countries. From 1948 until his death, Janis Medins lived in Sweden, Helmers Pavasars made Great Britain his residence after 1954. Connections to classically romantic musical traditions are felt clearly in the works of both. Medins' Rhapsody for Flute and Piano written in 1945 in Germany, is dedicated to fellow composer and flutist Arnolds Sturms. In this free-form piece, he adroitly incorporates half a dozen Latvian folksong melodies. The intricate exposition of material in Pavasars' Duo for Flute and Violin, dated 1967, attests to the good taste and clarity of musical expressions that permeate his work. Differing styles, more resonant of various 20th century musical innovations, are evident in the works of three other Latvian composers of the older generation- Arnolds Sturms (1912-1999), Alberts Jerums (1919-1978), and Talivaldis Kenins (1919). Residing in the USA from 1949, composer, flutist, commentator, and Latvian cultural activist Arnolds Sturms explored both traditional values and 20th century musical language, including modality and dodecaphony. This multifaceted approach is used in Suite Modale fro Flute and String Quintet. Initially written for flute and piano in 1966, the suite was reworked in 1989 for this instrumental grouping. It intrigues especially with it's imagistic finesse and nuance. Alberts Jerums settled in Great Britain in 1947, always responding with interest to new elements arising in music at that time. Not for naught Talivaldis Kenins called Jerums 'the first Latvian 20th-century composer"- it is not just a respectful, complimentary formality. Music for flute, voice and violin, with lyrics by Ilze Rasa, portrays a romantically elevated ideal. As the composer himself has noted, the section titles express the gamut of rich feelings and moods which, through a synthesis of compositional techniques, brilliantly create a musical tapestry. Along with Sturms and Jerums, Talivaldis Kenins is presently one of the best-known Latvian musical grandmasters. Though closely associated with the musical culture and traditions of Canada, where he settled in 1951, Kenins is undeniably also a Latvian composer, one of those who from the mid-20th century has devoted himself to mastering various styles and trends. These interests were furthered by exposure to French culture at the Paris Conservatory (1945-1950), where he studied with Olivier Messiaen and graduated with "Grand Prix Laureate" in composition, earning a post-graduate scholarship from the UNESCO International Music Council. After immigration to Canada, Kenins began teaching at the University of Toronto, where he is presently a professor. Author of numerous symphonies, as well as works in other genres, he is a fascinating personality and engaging participant in the music world, whose music excites with it's refinement and richness of palette. In his 1967 Fantasy-Variations on an Eskimo Lullaby for flute and viola, the composer utilizes a North American Eskimo folk melody colored by ancient pentatonic tonality, revealed through the flowing music in variously evocative moods and situations. Andris Vitolins (1931) also takes his place among the older generation of composers, although he was barely 13 when his family fled to Sweden in October 1944. After completing high school, Vitolins studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, concentrating in piano and organ, while working as a music teacher, commentator, organist for a number of churches and a synagogue, and director of the Stockholm Latvian choir. In 1992, Vitolins repatriated to Latvia. He has created works of sacred music, as well as adaptations of Latvian folk songs for a variety of instrumental groupings. Three folk songs of Latgale, for flute and bassoon is one such work, commanding attention by it's interestingly formed timbral dialogue between flute and bassoon. A generation of Latvian composers born and raised outside Latvia is represented here by those whose musical creativity developed during the latter part of the 20th century, before the renewal of Latvia's independence in 1991. Martins Aldins (1946) was born in Germany; Peteris Aldins (1953) and Imants Mezaraups (1958) in the USA; Dace Aperans (1953) in Canada; Edgars Kariks (1955) in New Guinea. Dace Aperans is undeniably one of the most visible Latvian musicians abroad, not only as a composer, commentator, and teacher, but also as an organizer of and participant in many Latvian musical endeavors in Latvia and in the North American Latvian community. In 2001, she was awarded Latvia's Three-Star Order in recognition of this work. Additionally, her music has gained wide recognition in Canada and the USA, including an award in 1996 for "Three Songs with Texts by Emily Dickinson" from Opera Works. She has created choral and symphonic music, vocal and instrumental chamber music, and music for the stage. The songs For a Dandelion Blooming in November, wich text by Knuts Skujenieks, was composed in 1997 and, with her 2003 For an Apple Tree no Higher Than My Knee, forms an idiosyncratic cycle of that poet's verse. The poem For a Dandelion was written circa 1968, while Skujenieks was serving a sentence for "anti-Soviet activity" at a prison camp in Mordovia. The dandelion is a symbol of the desire for freedom, which can break it's way even through cobblestones. Martins Aldins, whose music interests span composition and performance, holds a diploma in early music performance practice and recorder from the Longy School of Music (Cambridge,MA). He was a member of the now-disbanded Boston-based American Latvian ensemble "Kolibri" and presently directs "A Joyful Noyse", the sacred early music group of the Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington, MA. As noted by Martins Aldins himself, the music of "The Lord's House" is based on memories of his own first attempts at composition, as well as the desire "to portray in musical notes bird songs, wind harps and the forest's dark silence and peacefulness". Peteris Aldins, like his brother Martins, was also active in the folk ensemble "Kolibri" and studied at the Longy School of Music. After earning a masters degree in composition from Carnegie Mellon School of Music in Pittsburgh, he returned to Boston, where he serves as organist and choir director for the Boston Latvian Lutheran Church, while working as a music teacher, musician, and composer. Besides choral music, his works include vocal and instrumental chamber music pieces. "Snake Incantations" for flute and piano was created using a Latvian folk incantation melody, illuminating the distinctive coloration of it's ancient intonations. Imants Mezaraups earned concurrent bachelor degrees in music and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and then continued his studies there with such notables as George Crumb, George Rochberg, and Richard Wernick, for an M.A. in composition, while also mastering the art of conducting. Mezaraups taught at a number of American institutions, while participating in Latvian musical and other cultural activities in the USA. He received a doctor of musical arts degree in composition from Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University in 1995 and relocated to Latvia in 1996, where he continues his work as teacher, composer, and commentators. Mezaraups himself has succinctly characterized his musical style: " In music I always search for a balance between emotion and intellect. The proportions may vary, but both are absolutely essential". This is exemplified by his work in various genres, with displays of 20th century compositions techniques as well as lyrically authentic and classical simple expression. Sonata for flute and harp, 1982, is one of his earliest compositions. It captivates with it's timbral resolutions of the interplay of the two instruments. Flutist, conductor, composer, teacher, and commentator Edgars Kariks, who has lived and worked in Latvia since 1994, was previously an active participant in Latvian musical life in Australia. Receiving his masters degree in flute performance from the University of Adelaide in South Australia in 1983, Kriks was also associated with several Australian orchestras. He is now involved in furthering international and scientific projects and Latvian musicology. Kariks devoted himself mostly to chamber music genres, searching for different possibilities of expression. Each of the pieces of "The Suite of three works for flute" reflects the composer's unique musical poetics. The first- "Baltic Cirrus" is a flute solo, enticing in it's multi-form and impressionistic tonal images. The second piece- "Vocalise of the Blessed Spirit", inspired by memories of the composer's New Guinea birthplace, is an intricate dialogue between voice and flute, endowed with a specific coloration by melodic lines comprised in a pentatonic scale. Finally, the third piece is titled "Candle", conceived as a flute solo cadence in a jazz style, playing out various emotional nuances while reflecting the composer's underlying image- a candle flame that barely perceptibly sways in the wind and slowly dies out, surrendering it's brilliant light to an unfathomable spirit.

Details

Title: On the Bridge
Release Date: 04/07/2006
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 794465827325
Item #: CDBY27325