The music of 74-year-old Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks has been cleverly described as “gunfire and chorales” by leader of Britain’s Navarra Quartet Magnus Johnston. As the son of a clergyman, Vasks suffered under the harsh Soviet regime. His music is, the composer says, an illustration of how the artist can “find a way out of the crisis of his time, towards affirmation, towards faith”.
Distant Light , a violin concerto written in the late 1990s and dedicated to fellow Latvian Gidon Kremer, formed the memorable climax of the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s “Luminous” concert, a selection of works performed in conjunction with the haunting and sometimes disturbing photographs of Bill Henson. The five-part concerto, played as a single continuous movement, is performed magnificently by Vadim Gluzman on this album.
Equally enjoyable are the Summer Dances which follow. These seven miniatures for two solo violins summon up suggestions of Bartók in folk song mode, although the melodies here are original. Gluzman and Sandis Steinbergs’ violins interweave and duel sumptuously and irresistibly.
Hazy harmonies from piano and strings open the arch-like 2001 Piano Quartet for...