Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Year's Music: Pēteris Vasks' "Distant Light"

Here is a piece that I only heard for the first time yesterday: Pēteris Vasks' Violin Concerto, "Distant Light." The St. Louis Symphony performed the piece this weekend, with violinist Anthony Marwood as soloist.

Vasks, I learned, is a Latvian composer forn in 1946. He was a double-bass player for the Latvian Symphony for nearly ten years and began to compose in the 1970s. Inspired by the music of Arvo Pärt, his music has been associated with that Estonian composer's mysticism. The STLSO program notes, by Paul Schiavo, describe "Distant Stars": 'asks cast his concerto in a long single movement with several distinct sections. In addition there are several extended, dramatic soliloquies for the solo violinist... Vasks has explained the concerto's title only in vague personal terms. 'Distant Light,' he says, 'is nostalgia with a touch of tragedy. Childhood memories, but also the glittering stars millions of light-years away.'... Baiba Skride, a Latvian violinist... says that the music 'really makes you feel the atmosphere and what people felt in those hard years during the Soviet Union, the desperation and the hope behind the desperation.'" Here are the full program notes (pp. 29-30 of this pdf file).

Here is piece with the same soloist:

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