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Plakidis: Songs For The Wind And Blood / Sne, Riga Chamber

Release Date: 04/10/2007 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 4   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peteris Plakidis
Performer:  Peteris PlakidisAntra BigacaVilnis PelnensUldis Urbans,   ... 
Conductor:  Normund Sne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riga Chamber Players
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

PLAKIDIS Music for Piano, Strings, and Timpani. 1 Songs of the Wind and Blood. 2 Concerto for Two Oboes and Strings. 3 Concerto-Ballad 4 Normmunds Snê, cond; Pêteris Plakidis (pn); 1 Antra Bigaca (mez); 2 Uldis Urbâns (ob); 3 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Vilnis Pelnêns (ob); 3 Andris Pauls (vn); 4 Dzintars Beitâns (vn); 4 Riga C Players TOCCATA 4 (59:53)

The name P?teris Plakidis may have come to your attention about 10 years ago, as it did to mine, when Gidon Kremer recorded two of his short pieces for solo violin entitled Grasshopper Dances . Indefatigable as ever, Martin Anderson decided to unearth more from Plakidis (born in 1947 in Latvia). Anderson’s CD label Toccata now brings us a program of mostly early works by the composer, recorded in February of 1999.

The earliest of these is the Music for Piano, Strings, and Timpani , written in 1969 as Plakidis completed his musical studies at the Latvian Conservatory. A work of strength and urgency, it betrays the heavy influence of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta . A long, free solo passage for piano at the start evolves into a Bartókian allegro, and thence through several variations on a simple thematic motif. Despite the clear influence of the Hungarian master—not a bad model for a young composer at the time—there are many individual touches. One of these is a dual cadenza for timpani and piano, a “duel” cadenza in fact, and a harmonically ambivalent ending where the piano’s accented chords fight the key established by hymn-like string textures. (This polytonal clash may have had its origin in the closing bars of Berg’s Chamber Concerto.) There would also seem to be a political undercurrent to the piece: the thematic motif comes from a nationalistic Latvian song. The CD notes take it to be an anti-Soviet statement, although knowing this fact is by no means vital to an appreciation of the work.

With the two shorter concertante pieces from the 1980s, we are in more recognizably Baltic territory. Texture becomes the primary element in the double oboe concerto, where the two solo instruments unfold freely imitative musical lines over a wash of high strings. The sound suggests birds winging in close formation over some vast, cold landscape (an image which would be enhanced by a more ECM-like acoustic). The Concerto-Ballad combines this free imitation with more propulsive writing, led by an important piano part, taking us into different emotional territory again. A plaintive, folk-like theme in thirds is a notable strand of the busy middle section of this tautly structured piece.

Finally, from 1991, comes a brief cycle of three songs for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra. Settings of dream-like poems by Astrida Ivaska, the songs evoke a warm response from the composer. Melodic vocal lines and atmospheric string textures blend with the innate warmth of the mezzo voice to produce a heartfelt mini-cycle on the subject of the “dark waters of memory.” Antra Bigaca sings beautifully, with full tone and a sympathetic approach to the drama of the poetry.

All the performances here are committed and gutsy, aided by close, analytical sound. In addition, Plakidis himself is the pianist in the Music for Piano, Strings, and Timpani , giving the recording an added authority. Essential listening for anyone with a penchant for Bartók, this disc proves an exciting discovery.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Music for Piano, Strings and Timpani by Peteris Plakidis
Performer:  Peteris Plakidis (Piano)
Conductor:  Normund Sne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riga Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969 
Songs for the Wind and Blood by Peteris Plakidis
Performer:  Peteris Plakidis (Piano), Antra Bigaca (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Normund Sne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riga Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991 
Concerto for 2 Oboes by Peteris Plakidis
Performer:  Vilnis Pelnens (Clarinet), Uldis Urbans (Oboe)
Conductor:  Normund Sne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riga Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Concerto-Ballad by Peteris Plakidis
Performer:  Andris Pauls (Violin)
Conductor:  Normund Sne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riga Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 

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