ŽIBUOKLĖ MARTINAITYTĖ (b.1973): Saudade, Millefleur, Horizons, Chiaroscuro Trilogy.
Catalogue Number: 02W078
Reference: ODE 1386-2
Description: These striking works occupy a rarely traversed middle ground between neo-romanticism and the structurally free and diverse trends that have emerged in the past decades as a reaction against atonality and academic avant-gardism. While Martinaitytė's layers of sonorous orchestral texture are complex and fluid, the music retains a strong sense of tonality, and is extremely approachable, even when its density leads it into intonations that depart significantly from conventional harmony. There is nothing shy and retiring about these monumental scores; they run the gamut from delicate and ethereal to colossal floes of magmatic or mechanical momentum. Sonically, the surging soundscapes have something in common with John Luther Adams, though Martinaitytė's structures are more subject to rapid development through the opposition of contrasting forces in the way that one associates with conventional symphonic argument. Saudade is the resonant Portuguese word that describes "a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing", and this work epitomizes "the reappearing leitmotifs in Martinaitytė's work ... emptiness, loneliness, silence, tranquility, transience, longing, memories, distances... the existential anxiety and blissful sadness emanating from her music ..." in the words of the musicologist Linas Paulauskis. These feelings can be tumultuous and overpowering; from the wistful phantoms of melancholy with which it opens, the piece surges with intensity until it reaches a huge, propulsive climax in tonal harmony and relentless rhythmic drive. Millefleur, the backdrop of a "thousand flowers" common to the art of many cultures, is represented in this piece by a background of shimmering small gestures in harmonics and chiming timbres. Gradually a solid foreground object appears, and reveals itself as a titanic, strongly rhythmic dance, a thunderous corybantic celebration, before receding behind the curtain of flowers. The composer describes the sumptuous tonal harmony of this piece as "acoustic hedonism". Horizons was inspired by the idea of multiple independent but connected narratives in fiction such as Cloud Atlas, the film "The Hours" and the writing of Italo Calvino - a perfect match for Martinaitytė's compositional methods. Entirely different layers of narrative - evanescent clouds of harmonics, or strongly repetitive post-minimalist rhythmic material, or an imposing tonal soundscape in tolling chords - transition abruptly into one another, bridged by temporarily stable harmonic, textural, or rhythmic anchors. The Chiaroscuro Trilogy explores the idea of the vibrant juxtaposition of shadow and light in a very tonal work that falls more clearly into the territory of Pärt-esque tintinnabulation than the other works here. The first movement progresses from caliginous depths to blazing heights; the second, "Meteors" is predominantly dark, illumined by random shafts of light; "Darkness of Light" resides in the upper registers but casts shadows onto the strata beneath. Gabrielus Alekna (piano), Lithuanina Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra; Giedrė Šlekytė.