Pēteris Vasks

"Music is the most powerful of all the muses, since it reaches the divine most easily. Yes, music is an abstraction, but sounds are able to express the spirit. That cannot be expressed in words. All around me the flesh is spoken about, but I want to shout: Where is the spirit, the soul? Souls are as overgrown as the jungle. That is why in my sounds I try to uphold a beam of light." Pēteris Vasks BIOGRAPHY Pēteris Vasks was born on April 16th, 1946 in Aizpute to a Baptist minister’s family. He studied at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School. In 1970, he graduated from the Lithuanian State Conservatory in Vytautas Sereika’s contrabass class, in turn graduating the Latvian State Conservatory composition class in 1978 (Valentīns Utkins’s class). From 1963 to 1974, Pēteris Vasks played the contrabass in the Symphony Orchestra of the Latvian National Opera, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, and the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. From 1978 to 1989, Pēteris Vasks worked as a teacher in the Salacgrīva, Zvejniekciems, and Jelgava Music Schools. As of 1989, the composer has been working in the Emīls Dārziņš Music School. Since the end of the 1980s, Pēteris Vasks has received compositional commissions and has worked with well-known musicians from many different countries (for example, the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and conductor Juha Kangas, violinist Gidon Kremer and the orchestra Kremerata Baltica, cellist David Geringas, the Kronos Quartet, The Hilliard Ensemble, the Latvian Radio Choir). He also participates in many different international music projects (The Stockholm New Music Festival, The Lockenhaus Music Festival in Austria, and others). Many of Pēteris Vasks’s works have been used by choreographers from many different countries for original ballet productions. Pēteris Vasks is the only Latvian composer who has a contract for regular release of work signed with the world famous music publishing company Schott Musik International. For his vivid creative work the composer has received awards and many honours both in Latvia, as well as many countries outside of Latvia. In 1994, the composer was elected honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Science, and in 2001 honorary member of the Swedish Royal Music Academy. For his significant contribution to cultural development, in 1996 Pēteris Vasks was awarded the University of Vienna Herder’s Award and the Baltic Assembly Award. In 1993, 1997, and 2000, the composer was a laureate of the Latvian Great Music Award. With the aim of facilitating the development of Latvian music, the Pēteris Vasks Fund was established in 2011. In his creative work, Pēteris Vasks tends to speak about global and timeless problems. Birth and death, hate and forgiveness, harmony and dissonant chaos are themes that are represented in many different sonic forms in all of the composer’s works. Though the composer has mastered and in his own language synthesized many different 20th century compositional techniques, the dominating musical expression is a desire to certify the necessity of a harmonic world feeling, to renew the worth of the classical music and bestow upon it a new sound. Altogether, neoromanticism is clearly sensed in Vasks’s works and an echo of a new expression of the spiritual aesthetic. Along with Pēteris Vasks, there are bright representatives of this aesthetic among the composer’s contemporaries, for example, the Estonian Arvo Pärt, the Pole Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and the Georgian Giya Kancheli. Jānis Kudiņš DISCOGRAPHY LP Trīsvienība (Trinity) for violin, cello, and piano / Ināra Veita, Maija Prēdele un Imants Zemzaris – 3'50″ / Mazā naktsmūzika (A Little Night Music) for piano / Tālivaldis Deksnis – 12'40″ // Pēteris Vasks. Imants Zemzaris. Vilnis Šmīdbergs. Latvijas jauno komponistu kamermūzika – 1980, Melodiya, C 10 13697 8 Ne tikai lirika (Not Only Poetry), cycle for women’s choir, text – Vitauts Ļūdēns / Women’s Choir Dzintars, Conductor Ausma Derkēvica – 7'32″ // Tautas sieviešu koris Dzintars, mākslinieciskais vadītājs Imants Cepītis – 1982, Melodiya, C 10 18639 40 In memoriam for two pianos / Nora Novika, Rafi Haradžanjan – 7'47″ // Klavieru duets Nora Novika un Rafi Haradžanjans. Padomju komponistu skaņdarbi – 1982, Melodiya, C 10 17925 6 Grāmata čellam (Book for Cello) / Maija Prēdele – 12'26″ / Ainava ar putniem (Landscape with Birds) for solo flute / Imants Sneibis – 7'25″ / Musica dolorosa for string orchestra / Latvia State Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Tovijs Lifšics – 13'25″ / Vēstījums (Message) for large string orchestra, two pianos and percussion / Latvia State Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Vassily Sinaisky – 13'30″ // Pēteris Vasks. Kamernaja i simfoničeskaja muzyka – 1986, Melodiya, C 10 24031 004 Lauda per orchestra for symphony orchestra / Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Jānis Kaijaks – 20'30″ / 2nd String Quartet (Vasaras dziedājumi [Summer Songs]) / Latvia Philharmonic String Quartet – Uldis Viesturs Sprūdžs, Vita Pozņikova, Valērijs Avramenko, Agne Stepiņa – 22'57″ // Pēteris Vasks – 1991, RiTonis, C 10 31351 003 Te Deum for organ / Tālivaldis Deksnis – 11'30″ // Ars Baltica. Starptautiskais ērģeļmūzikas festivāls – 1992, RiTonis, SP 020010 CDs (a selection) Mūzika aizlidojušajiem putniem (Music for Fleeting Birds) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn / Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble // Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble – 1992, Olympia, OCD 282 Te Deum for organ / Hans-Ola Ericsson – 12'52″ // Baltic Organ Music – 1992, BIS CD, 561 Cantabile per archi / String Section of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Paul Mägi – 8'03″ / Vēstījums (Message) for string orchestra, two pianos, percussion / Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Paul Mägi – 16'01″ / Musica dolorosa for string orchestra / Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Tovijs Lifšics – 12'56″ / 1st Symphony Balsis (Voices) for string orchestra / Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Tovijs Lifšics – 27'14″ // Pēteris Vasks. Cantabile per archi, Botschaft, Musica dolorosa, Symphonie Stimmen – 1993, Wergo Wer, 286220-2 Cantabile per archi – 8'19″ / Concerto for English horn and orchestra / Normunds Šnē – 20'00″ / Vēstījums (Message) for string orchestra, percussion, two pianos / piano duo Nora Novika and Rafi Haradžanjan – 14'57″ / Musica dolorosa for string orchestra – 12'38″ / Lauda for symphony orchestra – 21'15″ / Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Krišs Rusmanis // Vasks. Message – 1994, Conifer Classics, CDCF 236 75605 512362 Ķekatu dziesma (Carnival Song) / Latvian folksong / 2'50″ / Zīles ziņa (Message of a Bird) / Text – Uldis Bērziņš / 5'19″ / Mazi silti svētki (A Moment of Celebration) / Text – Jānis Baltvilks / 1'35″ / Skumjā māte (Sad Mother) / Text – Gabriele Mistral / 3'25″ / Sieviešu koris Dzintars, diriģente Ausma Derkēvica – 1995, Rīgas skaņu ierakstu studija, RS 004 2nd String Quartet / The Duke Quartet – Louisa Fuller, Rick Koster, John Metcalfe, Ivan McCready – 23'14″ // Baltic Elegy. String Quartets by Vasks, Tüür, Pärt – 1996, Collins Clasics, 14752 Concerto for cello and orchestra / David Geringas, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Jonas Aleksa – 34'00″ / 1st Symphony Balsis (Voices) for string orchestra / String Section of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Jonas Aleksa – 27'00″ // Vasks. Cello Concerto – 1996, Conifer Classics, 75605 51271 2 Ainava ar putniem (Landscape with Birds) for solo flute / Dita Krenberga – 8'22″ / Izdegušās zemes ainavas (Landscapes of the Burnt-out Earth) for piano / Ināra Zandmane – 15'53″ / Episodi e Canto perpetuo for violin, cello, and piano / Jānis Bulavs, Leons Veldre, Aldis Liepiņš – 24'03″ / Mūzika aizgājušajam draugam (In Memory of a Friend) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn / Wind Quintet of Riga – 10'17″ / Grāmata čellam (Book for Cello) / Kristīne Blaumane – 13'48″ // Vasks. Chamber Music – 1996, Conifer Classics, 75605 51272 2 Klusās dziesmas (Silent Songs), cycle for mixed choir / Text – Knuts Skujenieks, Leons Briedis / Chamber Choir Sacrum, Conductor Mārtiņš Klišāns – 8'20″ // Latviešu mūsdienu kora mūzika – 1996, Rīgas skaņu ierakstu studija, RS 009 Musica dolorosa for string orchestra – 12'28″ / Cantabile per archi – 6'23″ / Lauda for symphony orchestra – 17'38″ / 1st Symphony Balsis (Voices) for string orchestra – 23'45″ / I Fiamminghi, the Orchestra of Flanders, Conductor Rudolf Werthen // Vasks. Symphony Stimmen (Voices), Musica dolorosa, Lauda, Cantabile. I Fiamminghi, the Orchestra of Flanders. Rudolf Werthen – 1997, Telarc Digital, CD-80457 Mazā naktsmūzika (A Little Night Music) for piano / Werner Haben – 13'43″ / Baltā ainava (White Scenery) for piano / Werner Haben – 7'20″ / Mazā vasaras mūzika (Little Summer Music) for violin and piano / Heinrich Hoerlein, Werner Haben – 9'30″ / Episodi e Canto perpetuo for violin, cello, and piano / Heinrich Hoerlein, Friedemann Pardall, Werner Haben – 24'15″ / Ainava ar putniem (Landscape with Birds) for flute / Hans-Udo Heinzmann – 7'02″ / Mūzika aizgājušajam draugam (In Memory of a Friend) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn / Hans-Udo Heinzmann, Malte Lammer, Walter Hermann, Bjoern Groth, Klaus Vogt – 12'06″ // Peteris Vasks. Chamber Music – 1997, Koch Schwann, 3-6496-2 Grāmata čellam (Book for Cello) / David Geringas – 13'06″ // solo for tatjana. david geringas – 1997, ES-Dur Tonstudio, ES 2019 LC 7186 Concerto for violin and string orchestra Tālā gaisma (Distant Light) – 29'02″ / 1st Symphony Balsis (Voices) for string orchestra – 27'19″ / Gidon Kremer, the orchestra Kremerata Baltica // Vasks. Distant Light. Voices – 1999, TELDEC, 3984-22660-2 1st String Quartet (2nd edition) – 15'33″ / 2nd String Quartet Vasaras dziedājumi (Summer Songs) – 22'30″ / 3rd String Quartet – 25'02″ / Miami String Quartet – Ivan Chan, Cathy Meng Robinson, Chauncey Patterson, Keith Robinson // Pēteris Vasks. String Quartets – 1999, Conifer Classics, 75605 51334 2 2nd String Quartet Vasaras dziedājumi (Summer Songs) – 23'15″ / 3rd String Quartet // Rīgas stīgu kvartets – Uldis Viesturs Sprūdžs, Jurijs Savkins, Einars Roževics, Agne Stepiņa – 25'30″ // The Rigas String Quartet. Pēteris Vasks, string quartets 2 &3 – 2000, Caprice Records, 21635 Ar laiku puķes vīst (With Time Flowers Wilt), madrigal for mixed choir / Text – Claude de Pontoux (translated to the Latvian by Edvarts Virza) – 3'33″ / Māte saule (Mother Sun) for mixed choir / Text – Jānis Peters – 4'40″ // Apliecinājums. Latviešu kordziesmas antoloģija IV (1966–1990). Kamerkoris Ave Sol, diriģents Imants Kokars (ier. Rīgas sv. Franciska baznīcā 2000) – 2000, Ave Sol, LR 0002 Te Deum for organ / Roman Perucki – 11'13″ // Great organ works. Roman Perucki – 2000, Classical Gold, 3610192 Cantabile per archi – 8'56″ / 1st Symphony Balsis (Voices) for string orchestra – 26'24″ / Musica adventus for string orchestra – 28'23″ / Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Juha Kangas / Cantata for harpsichord / Aina Kalnciema – 5'42″ / Ainava ar putniem (Landscape with Birds) for solo flute / Algirdas Vizgirda – 8'10″ // Vasks. Voices – 2001, Finlandia Records, 8573-82185-2 Three poems by Czeslaw Milosz for mixed choir / Latvian Radio Choir, Conductor Kaspars Putniņš – 18'17″ / Māte saule (Mother Sun) for mixed choir / Text – Jānis Peters / Latvian Radio Choir, Conductor Kaspars Putniņš – 5'26″ / Zemgale, poem for mixed choir / Text – Māra Zālīte / Latvian Radio Choir, Conductor Sigvards Kļava – 12'53″ / Ar laiku puķes vīst (With Time Flowers Wilt), madrigal for mixed choir / Text – Claude de Pontoux (translated into Latvian by Edvarts Virza) / Latvian Radio Choir, Conductor Sigvards Kļava – 3'44″ / Litene, ballad for twelve voice choir, Text – Uldis Bērziņš / Latvian Radio Choir, Conductor Sigvards Kļava – 9'14″ / Dona nobis pacem for mixed choir and organ / Latvian Radio Choir, Aivars Kalējs, Conductor Sigvards Kļava – 14'43″ // Pēteris Vasks. Māte saule – 2001, BIS-CD-1145 Episodi e Canto perpetuo for violin, cello, and piano / Trio animae (Jean Christophe Gawrsyiak, Dieter Hilpert, Tomas Dratva) – 27'52″ // trio animae. souls in the dark – 2002, Cascavelle, VEL 3071 Golgātas krusts (Cross of Golgotha) for mixed choir / Text – Edvards Treimanis / Pater Noster for mixed choir // Dvēseles ceļojums. Latviešu kordziesmas antoloģija XII (1940–2000). Rīgas kamerkoris Ave Sol, diriģents Imants Kokars – 2003, Ave Sol, LR-0103 Viatore for organ / Iveta Apkalna – 17'22″ // Iveta Apkalna Live – 2003, HERA, 02114 Līdzenuma ainavas (Plainscapes) for mixed choir (vocalize), violin, cello / Youth Choir Kamēr..., Gidon Kremer, Marta Sudraba, Conductor Māris Sirmais – 15'36″ // Kamēr... Riga Youth Choir, Conductor Māris Sirmais, Gidon Kremer (violin), Marta Sudraba (cello), Jekaterina Suvorova (harp) – 2003, KCD, 004 4th String Quartet / Kronos Quartet – David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Jennifer Culp – 32'10″ // Kronos Quartet. Pēteris Vasks. String Quartet No. 4 – 2003, Nonesuch, 79695-2 Quartet for violin, viola, cello, and piano / Sandis Šteinbergs, Ilze Kļava, Reinis Birznieks, Jānis Maļeckis – 35'07″ // Pēteris Vasks. Tālivaldis Ķeniņš. Piano Quartets – 2003, ULMA-123 2nd Symphony / Tampere Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Conductor John Storgårds – 39'28″ / Concerto for violin and string orchestra Tālā gaisma (Distant Light) / John Storgårds, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Juha Kangas – 33'43″ // Pēteris Vasks. Symphony No. 2, Violin Concerto Distant Light – 2003, Ondine, ODE 1005-2 Concerto for violin and string orchestra Tālā gaisma (Distant Light) / Katarina Andreasson – 30’58” / Musica dolorosa / Mats Levin (cello solo) – 12’27” / Viatore – 14’47” / Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Leader Katarina Andreasson // Pēteris Vasks. Violin Concerto Distant Light, Musica dolorosa, Viatore. Katarina Andreasson, violin&leader. Swedish Chamber Orchestra – 2004, BIS-CD-1150 Symphony No. 3 – 42’06” / Cello Concerto – 34’40” / Marko Ylönen (cello), Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, D John Storgårds // Pēteris Vasks. Symphony No. 3. Cello Concerto – 2006, ONDINE, ODE 1086-5 Pater noster – 6’40” / Dona nobis pacem – 13’59” / Missa – 37’02” / Latvian Radio Choir, chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, conductor Sigvards Kļava // Pēteris Vasks. Pater noster – 2007, Ondine, ODE 1106-2 Grāmata čellam (Book for Cello) / Marta Sudraba – 15’12” // Marta Sudraba. Ex animo – 2007, Upe tuviem un tāliem, CD UPE TT 025 Viatore – 16’47” / Cantus ad pacem – 18’13” / Canto di forza – 13’48” / Musica seria – 16’43” / Te Deum – 12’11” / Tālivaldis Deksnis (organ) // Pēteris Vasks. Cantus ad pacem – 2008, Wergo, WER 67122 Musica adventus – 27’16” / Viatore – 16’35” / Concerto per corno inglese ed orchestra – 22’50” / Sinfonietta Rīga, conductor Normunds Šnē // Pēteris Vasks. Viatore – 2008, Wergo, WER 6 705 2 Episodi e canto perpetuo for violin, cello and piano / Piano Quartet / Trio Parnassus, Avri Levitan (viola) // Pēteris Vasks. Piano Trio. Piano Quartet – 2008, Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm, MDG 303 1513-2 Grāmata čellam / David Geringas / Partita for cello and piano / David Geringas, Kalle Randalu / Episodi e canto perpetuo for violin, cello and piano / Dmitry Sitkovetsky, David Geringas, Kalle Randalu – 56’ // Pēteris Vasks. Grāmata čellam. Partita. Episodi e canto perpetuo – 2009, Hänssler Classic 093.229.000 Canto di forza for organ / Ligita Sneibe – 14’24” // Ligita Sneibe. Latvian Organ Music – 2010, Riga Sound Recording Studio, RS 071 Baltā ainava (White Scenery) – 9’45” / Pavasara mūzika (Spring Music) – 19’33” / Zaļā ainava (Green Scenery) – 8’18” / Rudens mūzika (Autumn Music) – 15’57” / Vasaras vakara mūzika (Music for a Summer Evening) – 6’21” / Vestard Shimkus (piano) // Pēteris Vasks. The Seasons. Die Jahreszeiten – 2010, Wergo, WER 6734 2 Te Deum / Viatore / Canto di forza / Musica seria / Cantus ad pacem / Tuomas Pyrhönen (organ) // Te Deum. Pēteris Vasks. Organ Works – 2011, Alba Records, ABCD 325 Vox amoris, fantasy for violin and strings / Tālā gaisma (Distant Light), concerto for violin and string orchestra / Vientuļais eņģelis, meditation for violin and string orchestra / Alina Pogostkina (violin), Sinfonietta Rīga, conductor Juha Kangas // Vox amoris – 2012, Wergo, WER 67502 LITERATURE Rudzīte, G. Gribu būt neērts komponists (I Want to be an Uncomfortable Composer) [portrait of P. Vasks] // Liesma, 1977, No. 8, p. 8 • Avotiņš, V. Skaistā, netveramā mūzika starp komponistu un klausītāju (Beautiful, Intangible Music Between the Composer and the Listener) [Dialogue between P. Vasks un I. Zemzaris] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1981, December 25th • Zemzare, I. Načalo (O tvorčestve P.Vasksa i E. Straume) [The Beginning (about the creative work of P. Vasks and E. Straume)] // Sovetskaja Muzyka, 1981. No. 11, pp. 21–25 • Zemzaris, I. Sastrēgumstunda un korālis: Pēteri Vasku portretējot (Peak Hour and Chorale: Portraying Pēteris Vasks) // Literatūra un Māksla, 1983, December 16th • Lūsiņa, I. Autogrāfs Liesmai – Pēteris Vasks (An Autograph for Liesma – Pēteris Vasks) // Liesma, 1987, No. 2, pp. 9–10 • Jakubone, I. Joprojām gandrīz monologs (Still Almost a Monologue) [about the music of P. Vasks] // Latviešu mūzika 19. – Riga: Liesma, 1990, pp. 148–161 • Jakubone, I. Esmu pret muzikālo esperanto (I Am Against a Musical Esperanto) [discussion with Pēteris Vasks] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1991, February 23rd • Aperāne, D. Pētera Vaska skaņu pasaule (The Sonic World of Pēteris Vasks) // Laiks, October 22nd, 1994 • Ķeniņš, T. Izcils jaundarbs latviešu mūzikā (A Distinguished New Work in Latvian Music) [about Vasks’s Concerto for cello and orchestra] // Māksla, 1995, No. 2, pp. 71–72 • Ņedzvecka, S. Latvijā vēl daudz kalnu (Latvia Still Has Many Hills) [discussions with P. Vasks] // Māksla, 1996, No. 4, pp. 46–48 • Pētersone, O. Labāk rakstīt es nespēju (I Am Unable to Write Better) [discussion with P. Vasks] // Rīgas Balss, 1996, April 15th • Zemzaris, I. Savos žanros, savā pārliecībā (In My Genres, in My Conviction) [discussion with P. Vasks] // Literatūra un Māksla. Mēs, 1996, May 9th–16th • Zemzare, I., Pupa, G. Jauno mūzika pēc divdesmit gadiem (Music for the Young After Twenty Years). – Riga: Jumava, 2000 • Lesle, L. Die Musik Estlands, Lettlands und Litauens im Überblick (The Music of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in Overview) // Sikorski Informiert (Quartalsmagazin der Internationalen Musikverlage Hans Sikorski) Sonderveröffentlichung 2001, C 25726 F • Rozentāle, I. Pētera Vaska uguns (The Fire of Pēteris Vasks) [interview with the composer] // Mūzikas Saule, 2003, No. 6, pp. 6–11 © LMIC