ENCOUNTER. That is the motto of this year’s festival, a message of the energy and power of music that challenges time. Boundaries of time are pushed back, even torn down; it has no power over the limits of human existence. Time has also not been an obstacle for an encounter between Pēteris Vasks, Ludwig van Beethoven and their music, separated by centuries. The festival opens with Vasks’ String Quartet No. 6, its final movement ‘Encounter’ quoting the beautiful chorale from Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15. As usual, we will hear some contemporary music and new compositions as a symbol of continuity ‒ Tüür, Maskats, Selickis. The festival will conclude with Pēteris Vasks’ ‘Distant Light’ and Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. A circle closes, bringing together masters of the musical world of this century and classics.
The opening concert of the April of Pēteris Vasks’ Music festival on April 16 will feature String Quartet No. 6 by Pēteris Vasks and String Quartet No. 15 by Franz Schubert interpreted by the Modigliani Quartet, one of the world’s most sought-after and recognised string ensembles in the world.
Vasks’ String Quartet No. 6 premiered in Autumn 2020, when it was performed by another much renowned ensemble, the Artemis Quartet. Commissioned to mark the 250th birthday anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven, the piece is like an autobiographical look back at the life experiences by the great Viennese composer; its four movements speak of farewells, looking back, leaving and new encounters ‒ including with Beethoven’s own unworldly music.
The closing concert of the festival on April 23 brings together the present time and a classical value, building a bridge that spans centuries: Pēteris Vasks, the most recognised and most listened to Latvian composer in the world, is performed side by side with the great Viennese Ludwig van Beethoven.
The evening opens with Pēteris Vasks’ violin concerto ‘Distant Light’, a piece that carries the flash of hope that lights up so convincingly the whole oeuvre of the Latvian composer. Written in 1997 on commission from the Salzburg Festival and dedicated to the great violinist and close personal friend of the composer, Gidon Kremer, the piece has been interpreted for dozens of times over the 25 years of its existence, including the reading by the British violinist Hugo Ticciati at the inaugural April of Pēteris Vasks’ Music. This programme will see the concerto interpreted by a special guest, the Concertmaster of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Triin Ruubel.
Next, a kindred spirit to Pēteris Vasks, Erkki-Sven Tüür and one of his latest pieces, ‘Phantasma’. As indicated by the title, the score embodies a vision and an intangible flight of imagination.
In the second part of the programme, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, led by the Estonian conductor Kristiina Poska, will perform Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major. It opens with an almost veiled and distant mood but soon goes on to reveal lucid lightness and the emotional directness and openness typical for the composer.