About this Recording
8.570758 - BAJORAS, F.: Symphony-Diptych / Violin Concerto / Exodus I (Mataityte, Lithuanian State Symphony, Rinkevicius)
English 

Feliksas Bajoras (b. 1934)
Symphony-Diptych • Violin Concerto • Exodus I

 

“With no strings attached, it’s more important to be oneself, than to be understood.” – Feliksas Bajoras

Feliksas Bajoras made his début as a composer of concert music in the mid-1960s, the time of radical changes in contemporary Lithuanian music, although he was already known as a composer of songs and incidental music (today the extensive list of his works includes more than eighty compositions of popular music and about forty scores for theatre and film). Bajoras is frequently called a representative of new folklorism, when the composer often refers to his search for a new style (ranging from neo-classicism and new folklorism to hints of expressionism, minimalism and new simplicity). It is not, however, some melodies or motifs borrowed from folk-music that make his music unmistakably Lithuanian, but, first of all, the use of a specific manner of performance adopted from folksingers and -musicians. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine the composer’s world without vocal music, emblematic of his entire work. It is his way of using the voice that reveals the boundless realms of the composer’s fantasy, when he asks the performers to sing in a particular dialect, demands a specific pronunciation, and employs a variety of extended and unusual vocal techniques. Bajoras always gives preference to the language of hints and symbols rather than a coherent narrative. Perhaps that is why he often reshapes the literary texts in his own manner—avoiding the straightforward use of the text, he rather breaks it down to individual words or syllables and combines them in a different way, to create new and unexpected meanings. On the other hand, Bajoras often tends to create an effect of spoken speech in his purely instrumental works—different nuances of Lithuanian phonemes, intonations and articulations seem to be ‘transcribed’ into musical sounds. “All motifs, rhythms, sounds and articulations of Bajoras’s music speak as if in words, why not take and translate them?” (Vytautas Landsbergis). Thus Bajoras’s music is distinguished by a prominent theatrical character—while listening to it, one is struck with an impression that “something is going on”.

The three symphonic works recorded here are perfect examples of this. In the Symphony-Diptych (1984/1993), the impression of ‘talking’ is true already by the fact that the composer transferred the musical themes from his opera Lamb of God to this score. Composed two years after the opera, the Symphony-Diptych became a kind of compensation, as Lamb of God, now considered one of the prime examples of Lithuanian opera, did not reach the stage until 1991. The two-movement composition (with a coda) is noted for its continuous dramatic development; one can even hear some echoes of Wagnerian tragedy, particularly in the middle of the first movement. As in many symphonic scores by the composer, the texture of the Symphony-Diptych is heavily polyphonised, and the instrumental parts are perceived as certain characters—particularly personified are the passages of the wind instruments, in which the composer’s own manner of singing and talking can be recognised.

Though Bajoras conceived the idea of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1998/2001), dedicated to its first performer, violinist Raimundas Katilius) as early as 1983, he nurtured it for a long time, until it finally unfolded into a four-movement score full of lucid and optimistic feelings. The concerto proves that the composer had mastered the subtleties of writing for strings. Bajoras had studied violin before majoring in composition, and his violin-playing experience had an obvious influence on his way of using string-instruments, with various glissandi, saltandi, ricochets, or different colouring of the same note by using all four strings of the instrument. This concerto is counted among the most sophisticated examples of this genre in Lithuanian music. Here the soloist is an undisputable leader, but the composer did not seek the overall dominance of the violin; expressive monologues by the soloist sometimes retreat only to re-emerge from the textures of the orchestra with new force. The four movements of the concerto flowing one into another are full of capricious rhythms, echoes of the ancient Lithuanian polyphonic songs sutartinòs and short abrupt motifs, as well as lyrical revelations and neo-romantic climaxes.

Exodus I (1991/1994) for symphony orchestra with extensive percussion section was written in memory of the composer’s mother, but, in Bajoras’s words, “it is also dedicated to everyone of us, travellers on the eternal journey”. In this work the composer’s philosophical sensitivity broadly unfolds in eloquent lingering moments, sustained tones, meaningful rests, and even symbolical addressing of the primary sources of music by using a large variety of percussion. Although it was first performed at the Gaida Festival in 1994, the actual première of Exodus I took place a decade later. In 2004 at a concert dedicated to the composer’s seventieth anniversary, the composition acquired a new sound—on the stage, an impressive set of percussion instruments in front of the orchestra changed the already familiar work beyond recognition and surprised the audience with its colouristic inventions. The spare textures of the orchestra where each sound is of utmost importance, are shrouded in a veil of ingenious combinations of percussion timbres, thus creating a haunting, ethereal atmosphere.

“Every time the musicians have to discover that language in which I’m presently talking.” –Feliksas Bajoras

The portrait of Feliksas Bajoras would not be complete without some more details describing his creative attitude. While talking about his music, he explains the air of controversy surrounding it by his aim not to ingratiate himself with the audience. The composer who rejects all compromises and therefore is often accused of rudeness, has always had a steadfast faith in his work. Quite a few performers working on the premières of Bajoras’s compositions have encountered his demand for extraordinary, sometimes apparently impossible precision in performing his music. By asserting that “I start to lose my faith in badly performed works, which I used to love once”, the composer seeks that performers grasp his music and thoughts as their own. On the other hand, in the opinion of Donatas Katkus, the violist and conductor who has performed and recorded many of his compositions, Bajoras “probably is the composer in Lithuania most easily yielding to interpretations. His music does not contain any superfluous details; the composer always has a clear image and searches for the most adequate means to express it.”

 

Rima Povilionienė
English translation by Aušra Simanavičiūtė


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