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COMPOSERS: Kutavicius
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Last Pagan Rites; Epitaphium temporum pereunti
PERFORMER: Vilnius Ciurlionis Art School Choir/Romas Grazinis, Kaunas State Choir, Lithuanian National SO/Robertas Servenikas; Leopoldas Digrys (organ)
Bronius Kutavicius (born in 1932) is a cult figure in his native Lithuania. So it is appropriate that his music should be more widely available through recordings such as these two substantial choral works. The mystical timelessness of the Last Pagan Rites (1978) is arresting; ‘Oh you green grasshopper’ moves smoothly between mesmeric restraint and thrilling power. Meanwhile, the mantra-style repetitions in the ‘Celebration of the Medvegalis Hill’ are as persuasively involving as the snake hissing in the ‘Incantation of the Serpent’ is deliciously threatening.


The dreamy stasis of the haunting final movement, ‘Celebration of the Oak Tree’, seals this moving impression of ancient ritual with compelling intensity. Epitaphium temporum pereunti (1998) illustrates key events in the history of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius with more complex compositional techniques. In the first section (anno 1323) the musicians paint a vivid image of the chaotic unfriendly landscape of the distant past. Atmospheric ostinati bring order in part two (anno 1579), depicting the founding of the University of Vilnius. Increasing dissonance, excellently judged in both pace and dynamics by Servenikas, adumbrates the mournful lament in part three. A soothing and peaceful ending signals Lithuania’s triumphant rebirth and the reconsecration of the Cathedral in 1988. Nicholas Rast