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Druskininkanonas (2011) for double reed quintet

Categories Chamber Music, Druskomanija, Links: Audio, Lithuania, woodwind

I wrote this piece for the Lithuanian Oboe Quartet, with an offstage bassoon appearing late in the piece! It was premiered on the 20th May 2012 in Holy Trinity Church, Auletikos, Lithuania, as part of the Druskomanija international contemporary music fesitval.¬† There is a version for four oboes and bassoon; this alternative version (and the only one so far performed) features two oboes, oboe d’amore, cor anglais and bassoon.


Auletikos is a beautiful place, just a boat journey down the Nemunas river from Druskininkai. Every year on the last day of the Druskomanija festival, everyone takes the boat to Auletikos for the final concert of the festival. Magical!


The piece is essentially a canon written on one page, although owing to differences of register between the instruments, I did have to produce separate parts to account for octave differences. I didn’t have a chance to communicate with the players beforehand, so the way they interpreted my stemless noteheads at the end was different from my original intention (they played a regular unison rhythm, whereas I expected completely free unsynchronised music) , but the result was actually much more in keeping with Lithuanian minimalism, and made total sense in the cultural context–and was electrifying to hear live, as the previously chaotic, febrile texture unexpectedly coalesced into a single unison figure, repeated many times¬†over.


On the boat back to Druskininkai, Linas Paulauskis, archivist of the Lithuanian Music Information Centre (and probably the most knowledgeable person alive about Lithuanian contemporary music) said he thought Druskininkanonas was the best piece of the festival that year. I was so happy to hear such an appraisal!


The piece is dedicated to Rytis Mazulis, one of the most distinctive proponents of Lithuanian minimalism, Head of the Composition Department at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.