The Lithuanian Vladas Jakubėnas (1904–78) is one of a lost generation of Baltic composers. A student of Schreker in Berlin, he returned home to help build the musical culture of his country. But the Nazi invasion and Soviet occupation drove him into exile and, after five years in refugee camps in Germany, he settled in Chicago, playing an important role in the Lithuanian diaspora in North America. These choral songs show the deep identification of his late-Romantic style with the folk-music of the land he was forced to leave behind.
Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika Jurgita Mintautiene, soprano Gintautas Skliutas, tenor Dainius Jozenas, piano Vaclovas Augustinas, conductor
Catalogue No: TOCC0028EAN/UPC: 5060113440280Release Date: 01.01.2016Composer: Vladas Jakubėnas Artists: Baclovas Augustinas, Dainius Jozenas, Gintautas Skilutas, Jurgita Mintautiene, Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika
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Rob Barnett :
“His music is reputed to be “a fusion of romanticism and impressionism” with folk elements. … The sense of exile from distant homelands has a touching fragrance across the disc’s 55 minutes and 18 songs. The longest is 5:12 and the shortest 1:18 so they get succinctly to the point both musically and in the plot line. They are sung by a 25-strong Lithuanian mixed voice choir whose sound is excitingly captured and rendered across the loudspeakers. The songs divide between religious and folk aspects but are always anchored to melody and tonality. The first, O I Would Go, combines the two in a protesting devotion to homeland. The singing often burns fervently but not at the expense of clarity of enunciation or the sheer strength of the unison production. … Our Mother’s Tongue has a piano introduction and is redolent of the Kodaly choral songs. It is for females voices only. At Evening Prayer has the same invocatory simplicity and something of the Rachmaninov Vespers without the deep bass undertow. The lovely Many Lovers Have I Had is sung from a woman’s viewpoint and again has a piano introduction. Its rocking motion and nostalgic spirit – “Who will call that summer back” – makes for one of the most affecting songs here. I mentioned Kodaly but the spirit of the folksongs and their ‘plotlines’ are very much of a piece with the Canteloube Songs of the Auvergne. … Jakubėnas is good at choosing just the right note and treatment to avoid suffocating these blooms. Another fine song comes in the shape of Oh, Father is Giving His Dear Daughter Away with its medieval subject matter and the cruelty of taking back the errant daughter but not her child. Unusually a soprano solo voice appears here: piercing and poignant. The folksongs do not shy away from a bitter tragic edge. … The folksongs continue with High Hills, Level Meadows which seems to take joy in grim events, the lively carolling optimism of A Little Bird is Sitting, Perched and the final sweetness of Across the Seas. The booklet is well up to Toccata Classics’ standards of excellence.” –Music Web International, March 2016
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