Accompanied by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, the British violinist Anthony Marwood performs Pēteris Vasks' Violin Concerto "Distant Light". Recorded at University Aula, Oslo, on November 8, 2016.
One of the prevailing characteristics of Pēteris Vasks' music is its sheer beauty of sound, and his Violin Concerto "Distant Light" (Tala gaisma in Vasks' original Latvian), composed in 1996-1997 at the request of Gidon Kremer, observes the basic topos of many other Vasks works in its suggestion that music can relieve suffering and assuage grief. When he read Kremer's book Childhood Fragments he realized they had gone to the same school: "But we have only really met now in music. Distant Light is nostalgia with a touch of tragedy. Childhood memories, but also the glittering stars millions of light years away".
The opening of Distant Light, which is built in a single span of music, places Vasks stylistically exactly where his geographical origins are – between Pärt and Lutoslawski. The violin line slowly opens out over a gentle bed of growingly confident string tone, part diatony, part cluster. The strings disappear behind the first of three cadenzas, the basses then taking up a beautiful lament as the soloist soars ecstatically above. A bright-eyed, folk-like dance episode introduces a change of mood and tempo but is abruptly silenced by the second cadenza – which itself snaps to a close as the basses begin another poignant elegy. The third cadenza, with some deliberately ugly sounds, unleashes what one commentator has called "aleatory chaos" before a rather ill-bred waltz stamps it into submission and an extended coda revisits some of the earlier material and lays the music to gentle rest.
Source: Martin Anderson (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Pēteris Vasks (b. 1946)
♪ Violin Concerto "Distant Light" (1996-1997)
i. Andante – Cadenza I –
ii. Cantabile –
iii. Mosso – Cadenza II – ♩ = c120 –
iv. Cantabile – Agitato – Cadenza III – Tempo di Valse
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Director/Violin: Anthony Marwood
University Aula, Oslo, November 8, 2016
British violinist Anthony Marwood is known worldwide as an artist of exceptional expressive force. His energetic and collaborative nature places him in great demand as soloist/director with orchestras worldwide. He is Principal Artistic Partner of the celebrated Canadian chamber orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, a post he took up in 2015. In the 2016-2017 season, he was Artist in Residence at the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. His eminence as a soloist has brought him to work with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Sir Andrew Davis, Thomas Søndergård, David Robertson, Gerard Korsten, Ilan Volkov, Jaime Martin, Bernard Labadie and Douglas Boyd.
In recent years, engagements have included the Boston Symphony, St Louis Symphony and Vienna Radio Symphony, as well as the New Zealand and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Last season included performances of Kurt Weill's concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia, play/direct projects with the Aurora Orchestra at London's Royal Festival Hall and with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, a return to the Amsterdam Sinfonietta for a tour of the Netherlands, and a performance of Brahms's Double Concerto with Alexander Rudin and Musica Viva Moscow.
Marwood is a renowned champion of contemporary music, alongside more traditional repertoire. Among those new works composed for him is Thomas Adès' Violin Concerto "Concentric Paths". Marwood first performed the work in Berlin and at the BBC Proms with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by the composer, following these performances with many national premieres around the globe and a release on EMI in 2010; last season, he performed it with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Andrew Manze. Also composed for Marwood were Steven Mackey's "Four Iconoclastic Episodes", premiered in 2009 with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and Sally Beamish's 1995 violin concerto, premiered by Marwood with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. The most recent work written for Marwood is Samuel Adams' Violin Concerto, premiered in 2014 by the Berkeley Symphony in California under Joana Carneiro to critical acclaim.
The 2017-2018 season includes a tour with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, play/direct engagements with the Sydney Symphony and Tapiola Sinfonietta in Helsinki, debuts with the Gävle Symphony Orchestra (Adès concerto) and Jacksonville Symphony (Berg) and two concerto appearances with the Chamber Orchestra of Paris (Beethoven and Berg).
As a chamber musician, Marwood is a frequent participant at major chamber music festivals, with recent appearances including Vinterfest in Sweden, the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival and Bridgehampton Festival in New York. His recital partners include pianist Aleksandar Madžar, with whom he toured the US last season, and accordionist James Crabb, with whom he appeared at Wigmore Hall in 2015. Marwood returns to the Wigmore Hall in the current season to join musical colleagues for the octets of Mendelssohn and Enescu.
Anthony Marwood's most recent release – his 50th on the Hyperion label – is a recording of Walton's Violin Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins. The disc has received critical acclaim, including a 5-star review in The Guardian and Classical Source and a "Recommended Recording" in The Strad Magazine, whilst the Sunday Times hailed Marwood as "a thrilling, virtuosic soloist". Other recent releases for Hyperion include Schumann's late works for violin and orchestra and Britten's Violin and Double Concertos, both with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Marwood's recording of Schumann's violin sonatas, recorded with Aleksandar Madžar on the award-winning Wigmore Live label, was described by International Record Review as "exemplary in every way", and followed on from the duo's acclaimed recording of the Brahms violin sonatas on the same label.
Another facet of Marwood's career is genre-bending presentations, such as the Academy of St Martin in the Fields' fully-staged production of Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale", in which Marwood acted the role of the Soldier and played the violin part. He also enjoyed a successful collaboration with award-winning Indian classical dancer Mayuri Boonham.
Born in London, Anthony Marwood studied with Emanuel Hurwitz at the Royal Academy of Music, David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music, and took lessons from Sándor Végh and Daniel Phillips at IMS Prussia Cove. He was named Instrumentalist of the Year by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2006 and was the violinist of the Florestan Trio for sixteen years. He is co-Artistic Director of the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival in East Sussex, performs annually at the Yellow Barn Festival in Vermont, and enjoys a close association with the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne. Marwood was appointed a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music in 2013. He was appointed an MBE in the 2018 Queen's New Year's Honours List. He plays a 1736 Carlo Bergonzi violin, kindly bought by a syndicate of purchasers.
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