Author Topic: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)  (Read 25720 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« on: June 01, 2007, 06:02:13 AM »
Any views on Vasks?

I have just been listening to Symphony 2, Symphony 3 and the Cello Concerto. I have to say that, along with Arnell's Symphony 3 and David Bedford's Symphony 1, which are both very different works, Vasks's Symphony No 2 (Ondine booklet notes written by honourable member of GMG :)) is my favourite symphony written by a living composer. The last ten minutes or so are especially moving and as with Pettersson's Violin Concerto 2, they seem to spiral upwards to a new level of poetic inspiration which I find very moving.

Vasks Symphony 3 (newly released) seems to begin where the Second Symphony left off and although i have only listened to it twice, it is growing on me. Reviews were indifferent, suggesting that it is too long for its material, but I disagree, it is a fine, rather haunting work. The Cello Concerto (with Symphony 3 on Ondine) is one of his finest works, extremely eloquent and possessing great slumbering power.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Harry

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2007, 06:05:19 AM »
Never heard of him, so tell me, were to place his music, is it tonal?

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2007, 06:20:44 AM »
Never heard of him, so tell me, were to place his music, is it tonal?

Yes, it is tonal. I suppose that the idiom is not far removed from Rautavaara and Part but he has a unique and recognisable style.

The link should allow you to sample a bit:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vasks-Symphony-No-Violin-Concerto/dp/B00008GQGN/ref=sr_1_28/202-9173043-4179035?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1180711173&sr=1-28
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2007, 06:37:40 AM »
The violin concerto is a favourite :)

Some of the other orchestral works are nice but can be kind of dour and gloomy, or without enough melodic material to sustain themselves, in a late-Pärt kind of way (things such as Cantabile, Musica Dolorosa, Lauda etc)...
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

karlhenning

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2007, 06:41:00 AM »
Okay, just have to get this out of my system.

If Rubbra is the Scooby-Doo composer, Vasks is the Popeye composer.

All right, back to normal postosity . . . .

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2007, 06:45:33 AM »
Okay, just have to get this out of my system.

If Rubbra is the Scooby-Doo composer, Vasks is the Popeye composer.

All right, back to normal postosity . . . .

! :) ;D >:( :( ??? :o ::)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

lukeottevanger

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2007, 07:21:45 AM »
Yes, it is tonal. I suppose that the idiom is not far removed from Rautavaara and Part but he has a unique and recognisable style.

I'm not commenting on you personally, because this sort of thing is often said about Vasks, and others of this type (Kancheli being a prominent name worth mentioning); it's the sort of thing I have to stop myself from saying too. But it seems to me to be a little lazy and potentially misleading (and after all, Rautavaara and Part are very dissimilar composers themselves).

Part is a very special case, even amongst composers closer to him such as the ubiquitously cited Gorecki or Tavener. Part is the only one of these composers, AFAIK, to use a strict system in all his stylistically mature compositions (especially those written when he first developed the system, as we discussed yesterday on the Part thread). Though intensely attractive music appealing to a wide audience, Part's music is in essence as process-driven as some of Ligeti's Etudes, in its own way. For this reason he stands apart from all the other composers often lumped together with him. Gorecki and Tavener are the closest, though it's even more of a cliche to say so, because they too often use prominent process-driven forms (witness the infamous canon of Gorecki 3 or the mirror-harmonies of The Protecting Veil, to cite these two composers' respective strike-it-big works), but there's nothing on the level of Part's all-pervasive system even in their music.

So, to be more detailed:

What Vasks shares with Part - predominantly slow tempi and subdued dynamics; relatively simple tonal harmony; repeating figures and a generally 'spiritual' tone

Where he differs - Part doesn't develop his material, Vasks does; Part almost never uses fast tempi, Vasks does; Part avoids climax, Vasks doesn't; Part uses process in every note, Vask doesn't.

IOW, Vasks is more of a 'romantic', aesthetically speaking, than Part, who is very much a minimalist in these respects at least.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 07:28:01 AM by lukeottevanger »

karlhenning

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2007, 07:27:04 AM »
Thanks for illumination, as ever, Luke!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2007, 07:37:05 AM »
Thanks for illumination, as ever, Luke!

You're welcome, Karl, but it was hardly anything stunningly original - I'm sure I wasn't saying anything you didn't already know backwards. :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2007, 07:48:36 AM »
I'm not commenting on you personally, because this sort of thing is often said about Vasks, and others of this type (Kancheli being a prominent name worth mentioning); it's the sort of thing I have to stop myself from saying too. But it seems to me to be a little lazy and potentially misleading (and after all, Rautavaara and Part are very dissimilar composers themselves).

Part is a very special case, even amongst composers closer to him such as the ubiquitously cited Gorecki or Tavener. Part is the only one of these composers, AFAIK, to use a strict system in all his stylistically mature compositions (especially those written when he first developed the system, as we discussed yesterday on the Part thread). Though intensely attractive music appealing to a wide audience, Part's music is in essence as process-driven as some of Ligeti's Etudes, in its own way. For this reason he stands apart from all the other composers often lumped together with him. Gorecki and Tavener are the closest, though it's even more of a cliche to say so, because they too often use prominent process-driven forms (witness the infamous canon of Gorecki 3 or the mirror-harmonies of The Protecting Veil, to cite these two composers' respective strike-it-big works), but there's nothing on the level of Part's all-pervasive system even in their music.

So, to be more detailed:

What Vasks shares with Part - predominantly slow tempi and subdued dynamics; relatively simple tonal harmony; repeating figures and a generally 'spiritual' tone

Where he differs - Part doesn't develop his material, Vasks does; Part almost never uses fast tempi, Vasks does; Part avoids climax, Vasks doesn't; Part uses process in every note, Vask doesn't.

IOW, Vasks is more of a 'romantic', aesthetically speaking, than Part, who is very much a minimalist in these respects at least.


Yes, but I am not suggesting that his music is derivative of those composers, simply that there is IMHO some kind of affinity and vague similarity. When I read a review in "Gramophone" that the symphonies of Kinsella might appeal to those who admired Lilburn or Tubin (as I do), I knew that it was the kind of music that I would probably like (which it was). I did not interpret this as suggesting that the composers wrote technically identical music. It is like me saying that admirers of Bax might like the music of Alwyn, Moeran etc. It is supposed to be a vague guide to what others might like but as you have evidently guessed I am technically ignorant when it comes to music.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

lukeottevanger

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2007, 07:58:02 AM »

Yes, but I am not suggesting that his music is derivative of those composers, simply that there is IMHO some kind of affinity and vague similarity.

Yes, I appreciate that :) I can certainly see the similarity in that respects, and at this level the Part comparison is useful. However, not to flog a dead horse (I'm very good at that! :-[), to me Part at his best is a more potent composer than any of these others, and the reason is that the processes I mentioned give his music such steely, inexorable power and musical control, and enable him to create flawless structures that go straight to both heart and brain, if they are different places. I think he's a case apart, both technically and (at his best) in terms of achievement, that's all.

I tell you something that doesn't seem a million miles from Vasks - Barry Guy's After the Rain. This is a beautiful piece for string ensemble, utilising medieval techniques alongside modern ones to very emotive effect. For musical, programmatic and performances reasons it would make a perfect balance programmed alongside that Penderecki piece. Worth tracking down.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 08:00:21 AM by lukeottevanger »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2007, 09:17:07 AM »
Yes, I appreciate that :) I can certainly see the similarity in that respects, and at this level the Part comparison is useful. However, not to flog a dead horse (I'm very good at that! :-[), to me Part at his best is a more potent composer than any of these others, and the reason is that the processes I mentioned give his music such steely, inexorable power and musical control, and enable him to create flawless structures that go straight to both heart and brain, if they are different places. I think he's a case apart, both technically and (at his best) in terms of achievement, that's all.

I tell you something that doesn't seem a million miles from Vasks - Barry Guy's After the Rain. This is a beautiful piece for string ensemble, utilising medieval techniques alongside modern ones to very emotive effect. For musical, programmatic and performances reasons it would make a perfect balance programmed alongside that Penderecki piece. Worth tracking down.

OK, I must check out Barry Guy. In retrospect I think that Rautavaara was a more appropriate comparison than Part and I take your point  :)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Maciek

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2007, 10:00:42 AM »
Oh, stop patting yourselves on the shoulder! What sort of DISCUSSION forum is this? We, the audience, are bloodthirsty! We expect you to FIGHT!








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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2007, 10:28:18 PM »
Oh, stop patting yourselves on the shoulder! What sort of DISCUSSION forum is this? We, the audience, are bloodthirsty! We expect you to FIGHT!








 0:) 0:) 0:) 0:) 0:)

"Do that which consists of taking no action and order will prevail"
(Taoist quotation) ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2007, 12:39:36 AM »
IOW, Vasks is more of a 'romantic', aesthetically speaking, than Part, who is very much a minimalist in these respects at least.

Agreed, Vasks is a sort of 'romantic' indeed, whereas Pärt isn't. Vasks' personal favourites used to be the Poles (more Lutoslawski and even Baird than Gorecki, I would think; Vasks had part of his training in Vilnius, in neighbouring Lithuania, and was certainly much more influenced there than in the rather differently oriented world of the Estonian musical scene) and also George Crumb, for whatever (probably personal) reason. I don't think Pärt played any significant role in his life.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Thom

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2007, 09:05:13 AM »
If Rubbra is the Scooby-Doo composer ......

But he isn't of course. His music is neglected a bit perhaps, but I like it very much. I am not sure if there is a thread about him. He deserves one, I think

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2007, 11:53:22 PM »
Yes, I appreciate that :) I can certainly see the similarity in that respects, and at this level the Part comparison is useful. However, not to flog a dead horse (I'm very good at that! :-[), to me Part at his best is a more potent composer than any of these others, and the reason is that the processes I mentioned give his music such steely, inexorable power and musical control, and enable him to create flawless structures that go straight to both heart and brain, if they are different places. I think he's a case apart, both technically and (at his best) in terms of achievement, that's all.

I tell you something that doesn't seem a million miles from Vasks - Barry Guy's After the Rain. This is a beautiful piece for string ensemble, utilising medieval techniques alongside modern ones to very emotive effect. For musical, programmatic and performances reasons it would make a perfect balance programmed alongside that Penderecki piece. Worth tracking down.

I tracked down "After the Rain" by Barry Guy. You are right, it is an atmospheric piece which I enjoyed. Thanks for the sugestion.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline andy

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2007, 07:42:38 PM »
I love Vasks's Violin Concerto. It's a haunting, beautiful piece.

I have two versions of it, and of these, I recommend the Hyperion recording of it with Anthony Marwood as the soloist. I have the Ondine recording of it as well. It's a fine performance, but lacks a bit of energy in the couple of frantic moments.

I haven't heard too much of his other work. I'm blasé towards his second symphony. It's not good, not bad, but just another romantic-esque piece. I have the cd of his work titled Message and think it's crap. His use of percussion is ridiculous and the pieces on that cd are again just average.

The Emperor

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2007, 02:47:54 PM »
I just started to listen to Vasks string quartet nº4, impressed already.
The elegy is quite beautiful and minimalistic and the tocatta has a kind of DSCH feel to it with its fast pace.
I'm digging this a lot!!! 8)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Peteris Vasks (born 1946)
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2007, 03:10:49 PM »
Coincidentally, I was listening (yet again!) to Vasks's Symphony 2 when I saw this thread and had been wondering if there was one for Vasks. I see that I started it myself (but my memory is going as I get older ???). Actually, Symphony No 2 by Vasks is probably my favourite symphony by a contemporary composer (other are Arnell Symphony 5 and Kinsella Symphony 2); a masterpiece in my view, with a beautifully eloquent and moving conclusion.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).