Vasks: Viatore, Distant Light & Voices / Madić, Repušic, Munich Radio Orchestra

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The beauty that the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks evokes in his works would not be possible without the experience of violence and cruelty in this world. He grew up in a country deprived of liberty, and because of his faith and his artistic convictions he was exposed to reprisals from Russian cultural doctrine. His father, a Baptist pastor, was regarded as an “enemy of the people”, and his homeland was under Soviet control. As a result, Vasks developed a vision of freedom and subtle protest in his music. In the so-called “singing revolution”, the countries of the Baltic region with their traditional love of choral music initiated their independence from Soviet rule. Vasks' expressive, direct and often deliberately simple music quickly became the mouthpiece of the long-suppressed Latvian people, giving the nation a proud voice that can be heard worldwide.

Today, alongside Arvo Pärt, Vasks is one of the most famous composers from the Baltic states of the former Soviet Union. The works on this release are for chamber-music string ensembles: his first symphony "Balsis - Voices" (1991), the haunting violin concerto "Tala gaisma - Distant Light" (1996/97), and the piece "Viatore” (the traveler; 2001), dedicated to Arvo Pärt, here in a version for eleven solo strings by the conductor, church musician and arranger Stefan Vanselow. The Münchner Rundfunkorchester plays under its chief conductor Ivan Repušic, and the concerto soloist is Stanko Madic, first concertmaster of the MRO.


Distant Light's heartfelt, rooted performance may well prove a front runner in a field more competitive than that of any other concerto by a living composer. There is a strong sense of narrative sound from Repušić’s orchestra but also from Madić, whose control of vibrato and tone colour ranges from nervous intensity to still radiance. The cantabile movements retreat without exactly relaxing, the cadenzas are determinedly articulate and the overall power is cumulative more than choreographed. The difficult-to-record ending comes off well.

Recommended as a string-only immersion in Vasks’s world, a competitive account of his most famous work or just something to keep you going until the light actually returns.


Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 06, 2020

  • Catalog Number: BRK900334

  • UPC: 4035719003345

  • Label: BR Klassik

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Peteris Vasks

  • Conductor: Ivan Repusic

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Münchner Rundfunkorchester

  • Performer: Stanko Madic