Thursday 21 January 2021

Pulse of Minimalism: in one of the last live concerts before lockdown, Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas conducts concert of his own music and other contemporary composers

On 17 October 2020, the Lithuanian composer and conductor Gediminas Gelgotas conducted musicians from his New Ideas Chamber Orchestra and from the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra in a concert entitled The Pulse of Minimalism, in the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Great Hall in Vilnius. It was one of the last concerts in the hall before it closed for the second lockdown in Lithuania, which continues to this day. Luckily for us, the concert was filmed by Lithuanian National Philharmonic Television, a project which aims to bring the audience as close to the music as possible.

The programme consisted of British cellist and composer Peter Gregson's Bach Cello Suites Recomposed (2018); originally scored for cello sextet, it was here performed by solo double bass, Roman Patkolo, and string orchestra. Patkolo was named instrumentalist of the year by Opus Klassik Award in 2018; his collaboration with Gelgotas began few years ago, when Patkolo recorded Gelgotas' To The Skies, Transitory and Sanctifaction. [Patkolo and Gelgotas in Sanctifaction on YouTube].

Violinist David Nebel played Philip Glass' Epilogue (written for the 1997 film Bent), and Russian-German violinist and composer Aleksey Igudesman's Applemania (2020). [Nebel recently released a disc of the Stravinsky and Glass concertos on Sony, see my review]. Nebel and Gelgotas collaboration began in 2017 when Nebel commissioned Gelgotas' Violin Concerto, which was premiered in 2018 at Kissinger Sommer Festival. At the concert, Nebel played the Cadenza from the concerto.

Other Gelgotas works in the concert included Transitory, Higher Energy and Sanctifaction from Symphony No. 1 'Extracultural' (2015), and Lock Me In Your Light (2020). This latter was composed during the pandemic and takes the form of an appeal to St Luke, patron saint of doctors and artists.

Gelgotas says of his music "It's probably hard to assign my music to any category, current, style or direction. That is why it reflects the world around us". [Read my 2018 interview with Gelgotas]

During 2020 his music was performed at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall in Russia, and at the Odessa Classics Festival in the Ukraine. After this latter concert  Olesya Baglyukova wrote on that "Gelgotas' ideas in music are a clear embodiment of our current reality, where boundaries between Classical and Popular music are blurred. In fact, this is one of the directions that Classical music is taking on in our time and this direction is what helps us to keep the interest of today’s audiences, creates progress and evolution in our field."

The full concert is available on Lithuanian National Philharmonic Television website.

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