About this Recording
8.570408 - BAJORAS: Symphony No. 2 / Suite of Verbs / Prelude and Toccata / The Sign
English 

FELIKSAS BAJORAS (b. 1934)
Music for Strings

 

Feliksas Romualdas Bajoras began his musical training in Kaunas with Vincas Bacevičius, the father of two eminent composers, Grażyna Bacewicz and Vytautas Bacevičius. After graduating from the Lithuanian State Conservatory (now the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) as a violinist in 1957, he joined the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra (now the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra) and soon tried his hand in composing popular songs for light music orchestra, a genre favoured by the establishment of the time. The taste of creative work incited him to pursue professional studies in composition under Prof. Julius Juzeliūnas; he completed such studies in 1963. Even after he turned to 'serious' music, Bajoras continued writing popular songs occasionally, and performed them himself quite often.

Bajoras' works seem somewhat autobiographical. One significant influence in his music comes from Lithuanian folk songs. Bajoras values the manner of singing, regional dialects and semantics over the melody. For him melody is encoded in 'articulation' which in turn represents the most authentic human emotional experience.

From the outset of his career, Bajoras took active interest in modern compositional techniques, including dodecaphony and aleatory. However, he never embraced such techniques in an orthodox manner. What really lies at the core of his music, are his interests in the expressive potential of a melody, the meaning of a musical phrase, dialogue between melodies, the overall language and its meaning. Melodic structures in his music appear as prominent signs or symbols of a musical discourse. Such 'narratives' abound in Bajoras' works: in his opera Lamb of God (that the soviet Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre once refused to stage due to ideological reasons), oratorios (The Raising of the Bell and Under This Roof), orchestral works, cantatas, sacred works, songs and chamber pieces. Each work bears a programmatic title and develops a certain theme, and captures the composer's vision.

Bajoras' Symphony No. 2, "Stalactites" (Stalactites) from 1970 is a typical example of his programme music. It is like a diary in sound of his first trip to the former Czechoslovakia, in which he jotted down all his impressions and thoughts. From the very start the sounds of the rattling train invoke images of the real world: Tatra Mountains, Castles, Lidice, Jewish Cemetery, among others. The work ends with a homecoming motif in an aleatoric section which suggests the flow of memories wherein each instrument plays its individual melody. At the very end a grim ostinato takes over, re-enacting the clatter of Soviet tanks on the streets of Prague.

Suite of Verbs (1966) is one of Bajoras' early works, typical of his anti-romantic agenda at the time. The composer relies here on the structural possibilities of the twelve-tone row, and creates a simple sequence of seven scenes: coming, thinking, raging, admiring, suffering, dancing and leaving.

Prelude and Toccata (1967) continue in the stylistic and conceptual vein of the Suite of Verbs. The Prelude, with its naïve and innocent melody, invokes an emotional state without romantic sensuality. The Toccata, with its explicit gestures and drive, is a typical scherzo game whose lustre is somewhat tarnished by Soviet-like gloom and irony.

Zenklas (The Sign) for strings, percussion and voice (1996) was written in memory of the poet Mindaugas Tomonis (1940–1975), who displeased the KGB and died, mysteriously, during the Soviet years. The work is set to one of Tomonis' poems. It is a mournful piece for victims of resistance, evoking the terrifying spiritual reality of those days. It shows the power of Bajoras' melodic writing at its best, approximating that of Samuel Barber in his Adagio. A short soprano solo in the final section, which can be understood as both an epitaph and a ray of hope, concludes the entire development of broad melodic lines with great effect.

Donatas Katkus
English translation by Irena Jomantienė

 


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