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Pēteris Vasks: Oboe Concerto; Vēstījums; Lauda

Albrecht Mayer (oboe); Latvian National Symphony Orchestra/Andris Poga (Ondine)

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Pēteris Vasks
Oboe Concerto; Vēstījums (Message); Lauda
Albrecht Mayer (oboe); Latvian National Symphony Orchestra/Andris Poga
Ondine ODE 1355-2   68:41 mins

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2021 has seen Pēteris Vasks turn 75 – just three years after the centenary of Latvia’s establishment as an independent state, of which celebrations this release is a part. During their shared years, Vasks and his nation have suffered, then emerged from, decades of external oppression.

Two of the works here date from the period of Soviet re-occupation and are a reminder that such darkness remains not so distant. Nonetheless, in keeping with Vasks’s core values, both offer a positive vision at the same time that their very creation – replete with Latvian folk song and national sentiment – signalled protest.

Vēstījums (‘Message’, 1982) is scored for two pianos, strings and percussion, while Lauda (1985) is for symphony orchestra. Both are sensitively performed by the Latvian Symphony Orchestra under Andris Poga, who gives their melodic richness and minor-driven intensity plenty of space to breathe.

As a result, they feel intrinsically part of the Oboe Concerto that precedes them, composed for the 2018 centenary and offering an entirely bucolic vision of nature. Cast as a ‘Morning’ and ‘Evening Pastorale’ separated by a ‘Scherzando’, it’s a kind of gentle day-in-a-rural-life and is beautifully played by soloist Albrecht Mayer.

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Steph Power