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Sunday 15th February 2009 at 4 p.m.

”J.S.Bach and Lithuanian Composers”

Tuomas Pyrhönen, organ




Johann Sebastian Bach:
-Fantasia et Fuga in g, BWV 542
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis:
-Fuga-choralas in a, ”Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu Dir” (1902)
Johann Sebastian Bach: -O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross, BWV 622
Osvaldas Balakauskas:
(1937- )
-Sonata No2 for organ "Eneatonika”  (1979/2006)
Vidmantas Bartulis:(1954- ) -Choral and toccata ”The vision of 17th July, 1750” (1984)
Johann Sebastian Bach: -Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
Vytautas Bacevicius:


-Chanson lituanienne, op.22 Nr.2 ”Eh, le petit faucon vint” (1934)
Johann Sebastian Bach: -Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, BWV 641
Rytis Mazulis:

(1961-  )

-Poema (1980)
Johann Sebastian Bach: -Fuga in g, BWV 578



In my organ concert, I shall alternate organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach with Lithuanian organ music. My concert is part of the programme for "Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009". Thus, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Lithuanian ambassador to Finland Ms Halina Kobeckaite and Mr Pekka Sitari, Press Counsellor and Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Finland.
My concert opens with one of the most played and most brilliant organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Fantasy and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542). The Fantasy consists of free, improvisatory sections as well as imitative ones. In the Fantasy, chromaticism is particularly strong. The Fugue is considerably more straightforward than the Fantasy. However, the Fugue is a memorable and dance-like composition.
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis is the national composer of Lithuania. His body of work as a composer is quite limited, as he died of pneumonia at the same age as Mozart. In addition to fugues for piano and organ, Ciurlionis wrote two symphonic poems for orchestra as well as a string quartet. Ciurlionis was also a remarkable painter. His paintings were admired by the master composer Olivier Messiaen, for example. On the eve of Lithuanian Independence Day, celebrated on 16 February, I begin the cross section of Lithuanian organ music by playing “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee” (hymn no. 267 in the hymn book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland), a chorale fugue in A minor by Ciurlionis.
From Bach's collection of short organ chorales entitled Orgelbüchlein (the Little Organ Book), I will next perform a beautifully ornamented chorale “O man, mourn for thy many sins”. This chorale is one of the largest in the collection. It is very peaceful and meditative in character and could therefore be thought of as healing for the broken human beings of today, though this chorale was composed almost 300 years ago.
Currently, Osvaldas Balakauskas ranks amongst the most famous Lithuanian composers. He worked as the Lithuanian ambassador to France, Spain and Portugal respectively after Lithuania gained independence. Balakauskas has composed a lot of chamber and orchestral works, two ballets and a Requiem, which was recorded by the Naxos label some years ago. He has also worked for a long time as head of the composition department at the Vilnius Music Academy. Although Balakauskas is not an organist, he has written three sonatas for organ. The revised version of the 2nd organ sonata which I shall premiere today was made especially for me by Balakauskas at the end of 2006. In July 2007, I played his 3rd organ sonata for the first time in Lithuania at the St Casimir church, Vilnius, during the Christophorus festival. Balakauskas' style of composing is highly original. He calls it consonant serialism. In his unique style diatonic and jazz-like elements are combined in an interesting way. There are three movements in the 2nd organ sonata. Balakauskas has not created any titles for the two first movements, only metronome markings. The third and final movement is called Mantra.


*  *  *

Vidmantas Bartulis is a unique composer living in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city. In his organ work "The vision of 17th July, 1750" Bartulis has, in an imaginative way, cast the eyes of his soul from Bach's perspective when Bach's last eye operation failed. After the long and lamenting opening comes a minimalistic and virtuosic toccata which ends with music crashing into pieces of dissonance. At the end of this work, Bartulis cites an organ chorale by Bach: “Unto Thee I cry, O Lord Jesus”.
The original chorale “Unto Thee I cry, O Lord Jesus” (hymn no. 346 in the Finnish hymn book) appears in Bach’s Little Organ Book and is amongst the most played and beloved organ works from this book.
Vytautas Bacevicius was a courageous experimentalist, though "the Lithuanian Song" is amongst his more conservative works. Its theme is a Lithuanian folk song "Look, a small falcon flew here". Bacevicius wrote this composition in August 1934, when he also wrote most of his other organ works. There is an interesting detail about Bacevicius: his sister was the renowned Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz.
A chorale “When we are in sore trouble” (hymn no. in the Finnish hymn book 377) is included in the Little Organ Book by Bach. As is Bach’s opening chorale in my concert – “O man, mourn for thy many sins”, the cantus firmus (the chorale melody) in this chorale is highly ornamented. However, you can experience a sense of deep peace while listening to it.
Rytis Mazulis is the successor to Osvaldas Balakauskas as head of the composition department of the Vilnius Music Academy. His composing style is minimalistic. "Poema", which Mazulis wrote at the age of 19, anticipates his later style in an interesting way. This work has only been performed a few times in Lithuania prior to this concert. Here the dissonances and the minimalistic elements are densely and delicately intertwined.
Fugue in G minor (BWV 578) is one of the most coherent and most attractive pearls in a small scale by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Fugue concludes my concert in the same key as it started, but in a completely different, more composed atmosphere.

Tuomas Pyrhönen


Translated by Translatinki Oy.
More information: 
The concert will be broadcast on Wednesday 4th March at 7.03 p.m. on channel YLE Radio 1, and the interview is to be broadcast on the same day at 2.45 p.m. on the same channel.







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