Zariņš performs Garūta

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Garūta
LABELS: Skani
ALBUM TITLE: Garūta
WORKS: Piano Concerto; Four Preludes; The Soldiers are Sorrowful; Meditation; The Little Doll’s Lulling Song
PERFORMER: Reinis Zariņš (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: LMIC/SKANI 056

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Lūcija Garūta (1902-77) was one of the first professionally trained female pianist-composers in her native Latvia – as well as being among the first women to drive a car (and captain a yacht). This ambitious, creative spirit can be heard in her ravishing Piano Concerto (1952), which reflects the mid-20th century trend of neo-classicism, while the solo part is reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s concertos – with extra glissandos.

Garūta draws on Latvian folk melodies throughout the work (and her writing in general); the second movement is a series of double variations on funeral songs (the concerto was dedicated to the memory of Garūta’s niece who died aged 12). Reinis Zariņš zips up and down the keyboard with aplomb while the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra create climactic contours.

Garūta’s dualistic style balances darkness and light, and traditional and contemporary melodic ideals. The Four Preludes, coupling major and minor keys, and the variations on the Latvian folk song The Soldiers are Sorrowful demonstrate this yin and yang approach, as well as her technical understanding of the piano’s capabilities. Zariņš mines the music to proffer the listener curious melodic gems. The two additional miniatures – Meditation and The Little Doll’s Lulling Song – are pleasant, if a little syrupy.

Claire Jackson