Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello / France
Paula Šūmane, violin
Guntars Freibergs, percussion
Pavel Giunter, percussion / Lithuania
Latvian Radio Choir
Conductor Kaspars Putniņš
Programme: Sofia Gubaidulina, Ralph Vaughan Williams
The final programme of the Cello Cēsis Festival will touch upon the eternal matters and the beauty of nature, highlighting two wonderful musical instruments, the cello and the violin, while the choir will complement them by unfolding the message and adding even more colour to the voices of the solo instruments. The guests of the programme are the world-famous French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and violinist Paula Šūmane.
Sofia Gubaidulina’s ‘Canticle of the Sun’ (‘Sonnengesang’) is an extremely successful and true translation of the identically titled poem (also known as ‘Laudes Creaturarum’ or ‘Praise of the Creatures’) by St Francis of Assisi into music. It is a prayer in which the saint thanks all the powers of heaven and earth, Brother Sun and Sister Moon, in the conclusion invoking Sister Death. Conductor Kaspars Putniņš believes that the poem by St Francis of Assisi carries a great symbolic meaning and that Gubaidulina has managed to get to the very core of its message. In the musical piece it is the cello that represents the voice of St Francis of Assisi; meanwhile, the choir, like the chorus of the ancient Greek theatre, conjures up the mood, outlines the environment and expresses the attitude. The piece has strong ritualistic features; the musical language uses powerful and precisely painted imagery.
Sofia Gubaidulina wrote her ‘Canticle of the Sun’ in honour of the 70th birth anniversary of the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. In Cēsis we will be listening to its interpretation by the French cello player Jean-Guihen Queyras. The Latvian audience has met this wonderful musician on several occasions when he performed with Sinfonietta Rīga Chamber Orchestra and took part in the 2019 Autumn Chamber Music Festival in Riga. After his appearance at the Cello Cēsis Festival, Jean-Guihen Queyras will give another performance in Latvia ‒ at the Autumn Chamber Music Festival in October, a sign that his art is highly appreciated in this country.
Vaughan Williams is one of the best-known British symphonists. ‘The Lark Ascending’ poem for symphony orchestra and violin solo is among the composer’s most popular pieces. Conductor of the Latvian Radio Choir Kaspars Putniņš is convinced that the arrangement for choir and violin is every bit as wonderful as the original version; the only difference is a more intimate, softer sound and message.
The composition is like an incredibly beautiful and painterly landscape picture that highlights the potential of the violin as a musical instrument and its tenderly bittersweet melodious voice ‒ on the night, the voice will belong to the violin played by Paula Šūmane.