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Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra: Baltic Concerti

- CD Reviews
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Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra:
Baltic Concerti
(Orchestra Web Page)

Džeraldas Bidva, Violin
Karolina Juodelytė, Organ

Modestas Pitrėnas
Adrija Čepaitė

Pēteris Vasks – Vox amoris, Fantasy for violin and strings.

Julius Juzeliūnas –
Concerto for organ, violin, and string orchestra.

Anatolijus Šenderovas –
Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra.

Press: Odradek Records:

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 20, 2019

This CD is a selection of works chosen by Concertmaster of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Džeraldas Bidva, who also serves as Concertmaster of Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica. Mr. Bidva has appeared with internationally renowned conductors, such as Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach. Works by three Baltic composers are featured, Pēteris Vasks’ Fantasy for violin and strings, Julius Juzeliūnas’ Concerto for organ, violin, and string orchestra, and Anatolijus Šenderovas’ Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra. Modestras Pitrénas conducts the Vasks Fantasy and Šenderovas Concerto, while Adrija Čepaitė conducts the Juzeliūnas Concerto, that includes organist, Karolina Juodelytė. The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (LCO), whose Artistic Director is the Russian-born Sergej Krylov, was founded in 1960 by Prof. Saulius Sondeckis. The LCO is in demand around the globe on all the most prominent concert stages.

Notable tracks:

#1 – Vox amoris, Fantasy for Violin and Strings, 2009 – Composed by P. Vasks. The Latvian composer, Vasks, wrote this one-movement Fantasy about love, and it opens with whispering, shimmering strings. The LCO does not list member names or instruments, that I could find on its website or album notes, but by my count, on two album photos, there are 22 musicians shown, most with their instruments, others presumed to be pianist, percussionist, etc. This 23-minute-plus track, for violin and strings, is mesmerizing in the moment, and Mr. Bidva is a remarkably impressive violinist. I have reviewed two ballets scored to music by Vasks, but this luminous Fantasy seems purely for introspective listening, so nuanced and delicate. Central to the track is a more turbulent longing, with deeply charged chords, leading to a finale of tonal quietude, a sublime serenade. Maestro Pitrénas conducted this Fantasy astutely.

#3 – Concerto, Passacaglia, Andantino quieto, 1963 - Composed by J. Juzeliūnas. This second of three movements in Juzeliūnas’ Concerto opens with a glorious organ solo, the effect of which is a sumptuous chapel organ concert, except the tone and tempo are deliberately languorous and stark. The solo violin fuses with the organ for a mournful duet, with the LCO in sumptuous accompaniment. There were moments when I heard hints of a tango motif, as the chordal longing was so pronounced. Center-track, the organ opens the pipes for full volume effect, transfixing and tempestuous. The finale joins soloists and the LCO in a lovely filmatic phrase.

#4 – Concerto, Finale, allegro con brio, 1963 - Composed by J. Juzeliūnas. The organ is front and central to this third and final movement of the Lithuanian composer, Juzeliūnas’ Concerto, and the LCO’s bass and celli follow suit. This is truly a magnetic Concerto, which I would love to experience in live concert. Mr. Bidva and Ms. Juodelytė are to be commended for this complex and tightly focused performance. The first movement, mainly in the allegro tempi, was exquisite as well. This final track ends with a dervish violin and crashing organ chords, plus the string ensemble. Maestro Čepaitė conducted this Concerto magnificently.

#5 – Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra, 2007-13 – Composed by A. Šenderovas. This tense, dissonant work by Šenderovas includes the entire LCO, with expansive percussion and brass in the mix. Mr. Bidva, violin soloist once again, creates searing, mysterious, punctuated effects in unrushed and brief passages. This recent work, about 20 minutes-plus, should be heard in live concert as well for a more intimate rendering, but for the listener with this album, the experience is transporting. A gong enhances the inherent drama of this unique work by a renowned Lithuanian composer. Maestro Pitrénas conducted this challenging Concerto with seasoned attention to its contrasting tonalities and one-movement momentum.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at