“Synaesthesis”. On Both Sides of the Iron Curtain
PIERRE BOULEZ – Dérive 1
MORTON FELDMAN – For Frank O’Hara
GYÖRGY LIGETI – Continuum; Études No. 1 Désordre and No. 4 Fanfares
BRONIUS KUTAVIČIUS – Instrumental quintet Clocks of the Past
ALFRED SCHNITTKE – Serenade for five instruments
Synaesthesis Contemporary Music Ensemble unites young and rampant musicians unhampered by any standards but rather devising their own rules. Formed in 2013, the collective has already made their name on the contemporary scene of Lithuania. In 2016 and 2017, Synaesthesis participated in the International Summer Academy in Austria, where both times were awarded the Just Composed interpretation prize for the best performance of the premiered pieces. In 2017, the ensemble received the Young Artist Award from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, while in 2018 Synaesthesis became the ensemble-in-residence at the Lithuanian Composers’ Union. Their professionalism, openness to various forms of artistic synthesis and genuineness draws most diverse listeners. AfterSynaesthesis’performance of his works in GaidaContemporary Music Festival 2016 the renowned American composer Michael Gordon expressed his hope to hear this outstanding collective perform in New York. Indeed, the ensemble has already made its first steps onto the international scene – Melos Ethos festival in Bratislava andCrossroadsfestivalin Salzburg. This year it is getting ready for an important international project in Tallinn. In 2019, the Lithuanian Music Information Centre released the ensemble’s debut album Another Point of View.
According to composer Mindaugas Urbaitis, “Karolis Variakojis, the spiritus movensof the ensemble, was able not only assemble performers dedicated to contemporary music but also inspire them so strongly that the outburst of group’s energy at the concerts feels like a torrent. Their enthusiasm at work and on stage does not seem to diminish, on the contrary Synaesthesis’ programmes and their performance gets better with every concert; progression curve is swiftly rising up with the ensemble programming more complex and stylistically diverse contemporary opuses alongside the classics of the second-half of the 20th century”. In fact, that is a perfect description of the ensemble’s programme at the Vilnius Festival. Synaesthesis offers European music that was heard in 1968–1985 on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
In addition to the world’s foremost modernists Pierre Boulez, Morton Feldman and György Ligeti, the ensemble revives Clocks of the Past (1977) by Bronius Kutavičius, the paramount Lithuanian composers since the ’70. “The sun is in zenith over Bronius Kutavičius’ music. Certainly, its roots reach back to Lithuania’s past in the pagan Middle Ages, but it reflects a young nation’s optimism and vitality. ...naive and wise, reflective and spontaneous... it gives an idea about how much might still be left for Europe, if it will succeed in creating a musical culture, uniting border regions and the centre equally”, wrote Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Having given a gigantic impulse to the revival of cultural life of Lithuania behind the Iron Curtain, Kutavičius’unique music remains relevant for all generations today.
Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998), a composer who once belonged to Soviet region but later emigrated to the West, had friendly relationship with many a Lithuanian composer. He was a close friend to conductor Saulius Sondeckis, dedicated several of his compositions to Sondeckis. Schnittke wrote Sutartinėsfor chamber orchestra to commemorate tragic events of January 13th, 1991, and dedicated it to Lithuanian people. His postmodern and poly-stylistic music is very popular in Europe to this day. The audiences are moved by the magic of Schnittke’s music, its emotional sensitivity and simplicity, its polysemantic message allowing various interpretations. Serenadefor five instruments (1968), one of his earlier opuses in which the composer recycled his film music as well as employed fragments from Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s compositions, is a perfect example.