Justina Paltanavičiūtė, 2011 03 22

M.K.Čiurlionis. Photo by G.Mačiulis


In brief: “Edvard Grieg and Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis are two stars that shined on the periphery of Europe,” the head of Kaunas State Choir and principal conductor Petras Bingelis pointed out this link between the two composers. In fact, the composers are united not by the works but by the importance to their nations. The Music Festival of E.Grieg and M.K.Čiurlionis is organised in Kaunas for the 14th time already. It took place on the 9th-13th of March and became an introduction to events that will mark the centenary of death of M.K.Čiurlionis.

The idea of the festival is to present music of E. Grieg and M. K. Čiurlionis as well as music of other Nordic countries. Therefore, the programme of the festival of this year was rather diverse. In the opening concert Asta Krikščiūnaitė (soprano) and Audronė Kisieliūtė (piano) performed music of E. Grieg as well as Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931), Swedish composers Hugo Alfén (1872-1960) and Vilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927), Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The programme was enriched with compositions of the Italian composers Ottorino Respighi and Giuseppe Verdi.

The concert of the 11th of March coincided with the anniversary of restoration of independent Lithuania, and for this reason Lithuanian folk songs harmonised by M. K. Čiurlionis, cantata “De profundis” and the symphony poem “In the Woods” resounded. Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir also performed the cantata of E. Grieg “Longing for Homeland”, op. 31 and opuses of the Lithuanian composer Vladas Švedas (b. 1934). In addition to music, letters of M. K. Čiurlionis were read.

A film was also included into the programme of the festival: Scanorama presented the masterpiece, silent film of Carl Theodor Dreyer “The Passion of Joan of Arch” (1928). The music to the film was played by St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra conducted by Donatas Katkus. Even though the film tells about a French woman, it has some links with Norway: the film was censored and the original film did not survive – it burned down. Later some boxes with the film was found in a psychiatry hospital near Oslo and the original version of the film was restored. The music for the film was created by the Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius.

Nonetheless, a nu jazz star from Norway, trumpeter from Norway Nils Petter Molvær became the biggest intrigue of the festival of this year. He brought the trumpet as well as the synthesis of music, lights and video creation along with himself. This concert stood out by the music style: nu jazz style is not very close to academic music and usually resounds in jazz festivals. Still, this time an exception was made. Jazz combined with electronic music did not bore listeners, and the video installations were really impressive. The concert granted a possibility to get acquainted with contemporary non-academic Norwegian art.

Finally, the closing concert on the 13th of March generalised the entire festival and its concept. It was important by the fact that it was organised by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robertas Šervenikas and the Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, who has already become inseparable from the name of M.K. Čiurlionis. The most popular music pieces of M. K. Čiurlionis and E. Grieg were performed.

Thus, the 14th Music Festival of E. Grieg and M. K. Čiurlionis was really diverse: Lithuanian and Norwegian. Lithuanian music was mostly presented by works of M. K. Čiurlionis, and there was not so much of E. Grieg's music. The guest who presented Norwegian culture was not traditional but he really embodied the spirit of his country. A film in the programme of the festival was also surprising. It is really rejoicing that the Lithuanian and Norwegian cultures were introduced universally, not only through the traditional classical music.

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