BRONIUS KUTAVIČIUS (b.1932): The Seasons for Narrator, Chorus and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 11R068
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0200
Description: The Seasons is based on a poem by Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714-80), a Lutheran priest and poet. The poem describes the rituals and activities, work and festivities of rural villagers, preaching virtue through obedience to God's will in everyday actions and interaction with nature, rather than the pieties of church and prayer. It is this archaic, primitive, almost pagan aspect of the poem that inspires Kutavičius' music. The first movement, 'Joys of Spring' mainly consists of a raucous, rhythmically pounding dance, a cross between a primitive, folkloric proto-minimalism and a ritual more primeval, more earthy than Le sacre. Nothing if not stylistically diverse, 'Summer Toils' incorporates the rhythmic sharpening of scythes, choral episodes that might have wandered in out of Carmina Burana, thunderous bass drones, an extraordinary passage of harsh horn and trumpet ostinato patterns, tumultuous crowd scenes, and finally the pre-recorded swishing of grass falling to the scythes. 'Autumn Wealth' begins with beautiful polyphony from choir and strings suggesting fading light and gathering shadows, followed by rhythmically lively folksong- and dance episodes depicting rustic village wedding festivities. A sudden chill descends, ushering in 'Winter Cares', an austere, slow-moving orchestral dirge with chanted monosyllables from the choir. A long, slow twilight falls, followed by the unmistakable crepitation of ice crystals in creaking noise textures from the strings. A motoric ostinato accompanies an interpolated folk text, then the inexorable march of the season returns with full force, ending with an attempt to pierce the veil of an uncertain future, and a final prayer for the return of life, intoned by the narrator over adesolate, tolling bell. Lithuanian-English texts. Darius Meškausakas (narrator), Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika, St. Christopher Chamber orchestra; Donatas Katkus.