Sea/in the Forest/Five Pr

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MikolajusKonstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911 )

TheSea (Jūra)

Inthe Forest (Miške)

FivePreludes (arranged for string orchestra)


Lithuaniahas enjoyed a distinguished past. From the time in the mid-thirteenth centurywhen the country, under its warrior leader, turned to Christianity and madepeace with the Teutonic knights, there was territorial expansion that extendedto the Black Sea. The union with Poland in the fourteenth century, under theGrand Duke Jagiello, lasted until 1795, when Poland was partitioned andLithuania became part of the Russian Empire. In 1917 Lithuania became anindependent republic, a situation that lasted until the secret protocol of theSoviet-German treaty of 1939.


Lithuaniawas relatively late in developing its own culture. Union with Poland led to theuse of the Polish language by the ruling classes and limited national artisticdevelopment, while absorption into the Russian Empire presented a threat ofanother kind. Music tended, in consequence, to be foreign rather than nationalin form, except for the indigenous art of the peasantry. The country shared inthe music of Catholic Europe and of the Counter-Reformation, but, as in Russiaitself, it was the nineteenth century that brought a new current of nationalfeeling and a sense of national identity, in part through the work of thePolish poet Mickiewicz, friend and inspiration to Chopin, who made Vilnius thecentre of romantic interest. He had studied at the university there, and basedmuch of his earlier work on legends of Lithuanian epic heroism. Like Chopin, hechose exile in Paris, avoiding the Polish attempts at independence of 1830. Theabortive rising against the Tsarist government in 1863 led to the banning ofpublications in Lithuanian, unless printed in Cyrillic, a prohibition onlylifted in 1904. National music found expression in choral singing, and amateurorchestras, often in primitive surroundings, and in the foundation of organschools.


MikolujasKonstantinas Čiurlionis was born at Varena in southern Lithuania in 1875, theson of an organist. From the age of fourteen he studied at the music school inPlunge, acquiring a knowledge of various instruments, following this in 1894 bya period at the Warsaw Music Institute as a piano pupil eventually of the widelycultured Antoni Sygietynnski. He later studied composition with ZygmuntNoskowski, whose pupils included Szymanowski and Fitelberg, and went on tofurther study of composition in Leipzig with Liszt?é?í?é?ªs pupil Salomon Jadassohnand Carl Reinecke. In 1902 he began to develop another aspect of his talentwhen he entered the Warsaw Drawing School, moving two years later to the newlyestablished School of Fine Arts, and exhibiting in Warsaw in 1905 and inVilnius, where he made his home in 1907. As a painter he won posthumous successwith exhibitions in Warsaw, Vilnius and St. Petersburg soon after his death.


Čiurlioniswas closely concerned with Lithuanian nationalism, boosted by the removal ofpublication restrictions in 1904. He involved himself in the national choralmovement, and was deeply interested in Lithuanian folk-music, an enthusiasmthat his youngest sister, 24 years his junior, was to pursue with greatdistinction to become the leading authority on the subject. In 1909 he moved toSt. Petersburg, but returned to Lithuania before his death at the age of 35 in1911.


Thesymphonic poem The Sea (Jūra) was started in 1903 and completed in 1907. Intexture it has about it more of Richard Strauss than of Debussy, although theorchestra is handled with sensitivity to produce an overtly pictorial effect,much as some of the paintings of Čiurlionis had been conceived in quasi-musicalterms as pictorial sonatas. The sea is shown in a variety of moods, gentle,lyrical, running deep and rising to a climax of grandeur.


Theshorter symphonjc poem In the Forest (Miške) was written in 1900, before thedeparture of Čiurlionis for Leipzig. It is tempting once more to hear parallelswith contemporaries, with Sibelius in Finland in mood, and with composers ofGermany in a skilled and colourful use of the orchestra in music that isevocative but never merely narrative.


TheFive Preludes arranged for string orchestra were originally written for piano,a reminder of the distinction of Čiurlionis both as a performer and as acomposer for the keyboard, and a reminder, too, of the contemporaneous work ofSzymanowski in this vein.


TheSlovak Philharmonic Orchestra


TheSlovak Philharmonic Orchestra has benefited considerably from the work of itsdistinguished conductors. These include Vaclav Talich (1949-1952), LudovitRajter, Ladislav Slovak and Libor Pešek. Zdenék Košler has also had a long anddistinguished association with the orchestra and has conducted many of its mostsuccessful recordings, among them the complete symphonies of Dvořák.


Duringthe years of its professional existence the Slovak Philharmonic has workedunder the direction of many of the most distinguished conductors from abroad,from Eugene Goossens and Malcolm Sargent to Claudio Abbado, Antal Dorati andRiccardo Muti. The orchestra has undertaken many tours abroad, including visitsto Germany and Japan, and has made a large number of recordings for the CzechOpus label, for Supraphon, for Hungaroton and, in recent years, for the Marco Poloand Naxos labels. These recordings have brought the orchestra a growinginternational reputation and praise from the critics of leading internationalpublications.




JuozasDomarkas is generally considered the leading conductor in Lithuania. He studiedat the Conservatories in Vilnius and Leningrad and subsequently with IgorMarkevitch, before his appointment in 1964 as chief conductor of the LithuanianSymphony Orchestra in Vilnius. In addition to his career at home he hasconducted frequently in Leningrad and in Moscow, and in other countries.

Item number 8223323
Barcode 4891030233232
Release date 04/01/2000
Label Marco Polo
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Ciurlionis, Mikolajus Konstantinas
Ciurlionis, Mikolajus Konstantinas
Conductors Domarkas, Juozas
Domarkas, Juozas
Orchestras Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Disc: 1
Preliudai (Preludes)
1 Jüra
2 Miške
3 Dainele: Grave
4 Preludias: Tranquillo
5 Preludias: Andante
6 Preludias, Op. 7, No. 2: Con moto
7 Preludias, Op. 12, No. 1: Lento
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