Bronius Kutavičius’ oratorio The Seasons (2005–8) sets texts from a classic Lithuanian poem by the eighteenth-century pastor-poet Kristijonas Donelaitis which describes the lives of the peasants as they toil throughout the year. Kutavičius has long been fascinated with Lithuania’s folk-heritage, and The Seasons mixes musical modernism and primitivism in a powerful portrayal of the interaction of human activity and natural forces.
Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika; St. Cristopher Chamber Orchestra; Darius Meškauskas, reader; Donatus Katkus, conductor;
Catalogue No: TOCC0200EAN/UPC: 5060113442000Release Date: 02.10.2015Composer: Bronius Kutavičius Artists: Darius Meškauskas, Donatus Katkus, St. Cristopher Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika
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Jonathan Woolf :
“Bronius Kutavičius is one of Lithuania’s leading composers, a mesmerist who enfolds his audiences and listeners in trance-like music embedded in structures redolent of Pagan ritual. … There is constant accretion of colour and timbre, strong and striking intensifications that elevate the monotonous stretches into a kind of bardic celebration. The music glowers, the brass woozes, long passages sound sun-drunk on Pantheism. … A work with a large role for narrator – in truth so theatrically declaimed that he becomes almost shamanistic – and for chorus and chamber orchestra needs to justify this long span of time. … Thinking about the stylistic boundaries of a work such as this I can only come up with Stravinsky on one side and Orff – in less belligerent mode – on the other. Immersion in the rite demands qualities that may be beyond even the natural adherent. Its minimalistic bases are powerfully rooted in specifically Lithuanian elements. It’s not necessary to know Lithuanian folklore or to apprehend the agrarian realities of eighteenth-century life to appreciate the textual ramifications of the oratorio. It does involve, however, a strong degree of surrender to Kutavičius’ sense of proportion and, specifically, to the narrowness of the music’s intervals. The nearer to the appreciation of those particular elements one gets, the more likely it is that one will become engrossed in the music.” –Music Web International, January 2016
Philip Greenfield :
“Bronius Kutavicius (b 1932) is one of Lithuania’s most honored composers. He has adopted a minimalist style, but his trenchant sequences of harmonies and rhythms are rooted in Lithuanian folk music and a brand of primitivism that’s very much of the earth. … I confess that when I saw the title, I wondered if I was in for a Baltic take on Haydn’s galumphing, good-natured oratorio of the same name. No. This Seasons is as dark, menacing, and unremittingly bleak a traversal of the natural cycle as I could ever imagine. The narrator intones the opening ‘Joys of Spring’ amiably enough, but when the orchestra emerges, the minimalist patterns are (in the annotator’s words) “primordial, elemental, and more cosmic than human”. … In the hotter months, we hear the sounds of scythes scraping and the hisses of grass being cut. But before long hell’s devils are filling our mouths with curses, and the Kutavicius summer becomes no trip to the beach. Despite a peasant celebration or two, ‘Autumn Wealth’ is the most mournful season of all, with the misery of changing weather exceeded only by the angst of work left undone. … Winter? Don’t ask. Even with the soft words of the concluding prayer, a pervading sense of Baltic fatalism hints that we’re going to have to do it all again next year, when things could be even worse. This was recorded in concert a few years ago at St Catherine’s Church in Vilnius with the composer in attendance. It has the aura of a “special event gathering”… ” —American Record Guide, March 2016
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