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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Peteris Vasks' Violin Concerto ("Distant Light") was written for Gidon Kremer, who very capably recorded it for Teldec. However, although Kremer is a fine musician and a real force in contemporary music today, his sound often comes across as less than ingratiating, and for this reason John Storgards offers a useful alternative view. This new version also adds a few extra minutes to what already is a very mellow, dreamy piece, though the luminous string textures and ravishing soft playing that conductor Juha Kangas coaxes from the superb Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra go far toward granting him license to take the extra time.
The real treat, though, is this premiere recording
of Vasks' epic Second Symphony, a 40-minute single movement that sounds something like Giya Kancheli with better tunes and less sense of despair. The work opens with a magnificently turbulent exordium for full orchestra, which gradually gives way to a passage of great stillness punctuated by the quiet stirrings of stylized birdsong. Much of the thematic material sounds vaguely folk-inspired, and these two antithetical kinds of music engage in a dramatic dialog that after a few tremendous climaxes ebbs away peacefully at the work's close. If you enjoy Kancheli, or Rautavaara, or what you might call the "new tonal school" of modern composers, then you're going to love this. It's also marvelously played and conducted (Storgards on the podium this time), and the sonics are drop-dead gorgeous. An event not to be missed! [3/22/2003]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra "Distant Light" by Peteris Vasks
John Storgĺrds (Violin)
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1996-1997; Latvia
Date of Recording: 04/2002
Venue: Folk Art Center, Kaustinen, Latvia
Length: 33 Minutes 43 Secs.
Symphony no 2 by Peteris Vasks
Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1998; Latvia
Date of Recording: 05/2002
Venue: Tampere Hall, Latvia
Length: 39 Minutes 28 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Impressive Modern Music July 2, 2018
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"Latvian composer Peteris Vasks is represented on this very fine Ondine recording by two works of great merit. Symphony # 2 dates from the late 1990's and is (technically) a single movement work of nearly 40 minutes duration. I say 'technically' because the symphony in fact alternates between exuberant tutti orchestral extravaganzas and intensely austere interludes that seem to scream out in anguish, in effect creating quasi movements. If this sounds like something incoherent, rest assured it isn't, not by a long shot. Superbly played by Finland's outstanding Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor John Storgards, Vasks' Second Symphony is modern music with strong appeal. The same can be said for Vasks' riveting Violin Concerto, subtitled 'Distant Light,' the second work on the recording. Composed just a year or so prior to his Second Symphony, Vasks wrote this work for solo violin and string orchestra. Perhaps I should say 'large string orchestra,' given the powerful orchestral component of this concerto, overlaid by the poignancy of the solo violin, which interestingly is played by the same John Storgards who conducted the symphony. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and conductor Juha Kangas team up with Mr. Storgards to deliver a ravishing, emotionally intense performance that frankly defies easy descriptions other than demonstrating undeniable virtuosity throughout. Like the symphony, Vasks' Violin Concerto is a single movement composition, and like the symphony, packs a huge amount of musical ideas of immense interest and appeal into its single movement. This is an excellent example of modern classical music that attracts, not repels. I loved it, and I suspect that you will as well. Recommended."
A major accomplishment April 15, 2012
By paul m. (simpsonville, SC) See All My Reviews
"If you enjoy the music of Richard Strauss, Shostakovitch and Langaard you will love Vasks symphony #1. It grabs you from the opening bars and sends you on a roller coaster ride up and down with terrific crescendos and lovely slow sections. The violin concerto is harder to grasp but after several hearings grows on you. A worthy disc for lovers of modern music. "