An introduction to an immensely talented composer

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is oip-2.jpg

In Ondine’s new release Saudade the listener is taken over the course of an hour on an intense sensorial journey of music by the immensely talented New York-based Lithuanian composer Žibuokle Martinaityte.

The CD includes several works by Martinaityte composed by her within a span of the past seven years. They are given here superb performances by both the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra each conducted by Giedre Slekyte, with Gabrielius Alekna as the piano soloist.

The most recent of the works, the 2019 Saudade (so-ˈdädə ) takes for its title a Portuguese word that describes a bittersweet emotional state that mixes nostalgia and longing for something or someone no longer there. Martinaityte conveys her very personal emotional journey from loss to redemption into music of depth and import.

Millefleur (mēl-ˈflər) (2018) is a French word literally meaning thousand flowers that describes a perfume distilled from several different kinds of flowers, or an ornamental pattern depicting a large variety of flowers. In this work Martinaityte creates a gorgeous musical effect of splintering musical kernels into myriads of tiny pieces.

Martinaityte’s Chiaroscuro trilogy (2017) is a 3-movement work for piano and strings. Chiaroscuro (kyä-rəˈskoo-rō) the Italian word literally meaning light-dark describes the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting that creates an effect of contrasted light and shadow on a subject.

Chiaroscuro is used by the composer to depict in musical terms contrasts of the obscured and the fully seen. Divided into Tunnel, Meteor and Darkness of Light and making little observance as in much of her music of traditional compositional notions of melody, harmony, rhythm, and counterpoint, the composer instead uses changes in the density and the texture of the instrumentation to create a full palette of orchestral colors that sustain the interest of the listener.

At times the piano in the Chiaroscuro Trilogy is called upon to sound like a celesta playing an insistent figuration in its highest octave, at others it is asked to plummet to the nether regions of its range. Oftentimes it uses repetitiveness and ostinato gestures to convey in musical terms inexpressible poetic notions of the intangible or of physical changes and mutations, as in Tunnel, where the regular “bumps” in the instrumentation remind us with dry humor of times traversing interminable railroad journeys through long tunnels that cut through mountains until at last coming out at the other end to encounter once more the longed-for light.

Rafael de Acha