Saudade; Millefleur; Horizons; Chiaroscuro Trilogy*
*Gabrielius Alekna (piano); Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, *Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra/Giedrė Šlekytė
Ondine ODE 1386-2 69:25 mins
Žibuoklė Martinaitytė was born to Lithuanian parents in Russia in 1973. Having been based in the USA for some years, on the strength of this expansive first album of orchestral works it’s high time she received wider international recognition.
The four pieces here, dating from 2013-19, reveal a fascination with timbre and texture central to Martinaitytė’s creative purpose: music is an art of time, yet she is more interested in exploring sound through moment-by-moment shifts in foreground and background than through linear processes. In Saudade and elsewhere the idiom is an apparently static, frequently dissonant tonality in which surging chord clusters and glassy, bell-like fragments are shot through with shimmering sustained pedals. As the title suggests, the impetus is often emotional: in this case, a longing for home and her recently deceased father.
Martinaitytė has written of her desire for beauty, and in Millefleur she seeks ‘acoustic pleasures, as though walking through a beautiful sonic garden.’ But this does not mean that her work lacks tension or challenge. In Horizons, the aim is to disrupt the listener’s perception of time through haunting juxtapositions, while the piano concerto Chiaroscuro Trilogy explores the essence of black and white, light and dark, from a place of existential ambivalence. Pianist Gabrielius Alekna and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra perform with subtlety yet robustness – as do the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, all under the baton of Giedrė Šlekytė.