ĒRIKS EŠENVALDS (b.1977): 4th Liepāja Concerto “Visions of Arctic: Night” for Clarinet, Orchestra and Electronics, VILNIS ŠMĪDBERGS (b.1944): Merry-Go-Round, PĒTERIS VASKS (b.1946): Symphony No. 2.
Catalogue Number: 10R010
Description: Šmidberg's Merry-Go-Round is anything but exclusively merry, but it does go round and round, with a disturbing obsessiveness. The tonal music has a circus quality, but as the composer says, it dances 'hand in hand with its own pain'. The work is not minimalist, though ostinato-laden; successive sections are varied in subject matter, but all revolve into a shadow-landscape soon enough and take on a menacing aspect. Ešenvalds' attractive, atmospheric clarinet concerto is inspired by the natural phenomena and grandeur of the Baltic landscape and night sky. Its extended tonality and scintillating timbres, sense of scale, drama and wonderment suggest a first cousin to Tveitt's Northern Lights piano concerto. The electronics are used imaginatively and sparingly, to enhance the spatial scale of the soundscape; the work is very much a neo-romantic exercise in lush, immersive nature-painting, full of evocative timbral effects and sweeping melodic statements. Vasks' monumental 40-minute symphony is in the tradition of the great Scandinavian symphonists, from Sibelius to Pettersson, with some suggestions of Shostakovich and Kancheli. There is violence and suffering in this work, balanced by the more tranquil and meditative aspect of Vasks' muse as the symphony works its way from a tormented opening to a finale in which a Lativan folk-like melody brings what the composer describes as "a sense of light-filled sorrow". Liepāja Symphony Orchestra; Atvars Lakstīgala.