Sound Out presenter Ian McGlynn previews one of this week's outstanding new music releases - Distant Light, featuring music by renowned Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks.
The seeds of this beautiful new album were sown when Dutch/English violinist Daniel Rowland invited Pēteris Vasks to be Composer in Residence at their 2019 Stiftfestival in Holland. The festival centered around Peteris' works in all forms - solo, chamber and orchestral. But it was the closing concert in the 15th century Plechelmus Basiliek in Oldenzaal, which inspired composer and artist alike to collaborate on this album.
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Watch: Rowland and Vasks speak during the recording session in 2019
Vasks' music is influenced by many factors. He was born into the family of a Baptist pastor, trained as a violinist and double-bass player in Latvia and played in many orchestras there. However his Baptist faith clashed with the Soviet regime of the time, and in order to study composition he had to leave for Lithuania. But this introduced Vasks to music by other composers including Lutosławski, Penderecki and Crumb, while also introducing Vasks in turn to the wider music community. And today he’s recognised as one of the leading European contemporary composers.
Distant Light is a reflection of Vasks' life and work, a rich portrait of four iconic works that veers between his large scale dramatic Violin Concerto (Distant Light), and his work infused with Latvian birdsong, Plainscapes.
Recorded with the Stift Festival Orchestra, they’re also joined by Consensus Vocalis for his Dona Nobis Pacem, an emotive work that comes from the Latvian choral tradition.
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Ian McGlynn presents Sound Out every Friday evening 9-10pm on RTÉ lyric fm, repeated Sunday 9-10pm. A weekly digest of the best Irish and international new music and new releases - listen back here.