Friday, August 31, 2012

CCC 043 - Peteris Vasks

This installment of the Consonant Classical Challenge features Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. Vasks is the son of a Baptist minister, and his music reflects a deep spirituality. For the most part, Vasks compositions have a serenity to them, with slow-moving harmonies.

His choral composition Dona Nobis Pacem is a good example of Vasks' compositional style.

The subject matter doesn't have to be overtly religious, though. The Concerto for cor anglais (English horn) is one of Vasks's most popular works. And although it's an orchestral work with no stated program, it still has that same sense of spirituality as his liturgical compositions.

Many people wrongly associate contemporary composition with angry, confrontational sounds. Vasks music is anything but. His music is personal and expressive, and exudes an aura of calm. Imagine the effect his Musica dolorosa for string orchestra would have on an audience bracing themselves for an onslaught of atonality.

Peteris Vask has composed orchestral works, concertos, chamber music and choral works that have been enthusiastically embraced by performing groups and audiences -- in Europe. His recordings do sell well in this country, but his music is largely absent from the concert halls of America. And to me, that's something of a puzzle, as Vasks should (I think) appeal both to traditional concert-goers as well as folks just discovering classical music.

Recommended Recordings

Peteris Vasks: Symphony No. 3; Cello Concerto [Hybrid SACD]

Peteris Vasks: Message - Cantabile (1979); Cor anglais Concerto (1989); Message (1982); Musica dolorosa (1983); Lauda (1986)

Music of Peteris Vasks

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