On Thursday, August 6, LR3 “Klasika” premiered the new album of the former Riga resident – Ukrainian violinist Vadim Gluzman, who was born in Ukraine, is world-famous and is always eagerly awaited in Latvia, dedicated to the music of Pēteris Vasks. The barn, released this year by the sound recording company BIS, includes a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “Far Light”, “Summer Dances”, which is world premiere by Vadim Gluzman and Sanda Steinberg, as well as the Piano Quartet, where former and current members have met. Vadims Gluzmans, viola player Ilze Kļava, cellist Reinis Birznieks and pianist Andžela Joffe.
Inta Zēgnere: Although you live in Chicago with your wife Andžels, do you still remember the Latvian “hello” from the time of the Garden School?
Vadims Gluzmans: Yes, I have not forgotten it, like many other words, unfortunately I have lost the Latvian language as such during these thirty years …
However, I have always been connected with Latvia, despite the fact that my family left Latvia thirty years ago.
But my first teacher, Roman Schnee, still teaches in the same 31st grade of the Garden School, and so many friends remain in Latvia. Childhood is one of the most important stages in my life, so I have never lost touch with Latvia. But with this album and the work on it, the connection has become even stronger.
Does the idea of an album dedicated entirely to Peter Vasks’ music belong to you, or was it the idea of the record company BIS?
That was my idea.
Many years ago, I had included Peter Vasks’ “Far Light” in my repertoire and I had fallen in love with this music. At one point I felt that I was ready to record it on the album as well.
Then it was important to understand what else could be included next to the concert. It seemed to me that it would be quite logical to dedicate the whole disc to the music of Peter Vasks, and his Quartet was the first in this choice. It is difficult to find such an outstanding piece in the chamber music genre during the last thirty or forty years. Then came the idea of ”Summer Dances”, which we recorded together with Sandis Steinbergs. But that was already Peter’s idea. He came to the concerts I played in Helsinki – his concert was recorded and Peter gave me the notes of “Summer Dance”. I completely fell in love with this music … I asked Sandis if he would like to record it with me, and so we met in Bremen and finished recording the album.
Let’s stop at “Far Light”. Of course, since 1997. This concert is very popular in the repertoire of violinists, but – no matter how many interpreters, “Far Light” will shine differently each time. I remember how Mark Bushkov played it together with Sinfonietta Riga in the Bervald Hall in Stockholm – there were a lot of painful expressions in his reading. On the other hand, your recording – at least that’s how I felt it – is like healing tenderness and more contemplation.
Very interesting… It has always been difficult for me to put words into words about music. But if I tried to explain what this music means to me, I would say it is hope. The hope that tomorrow will be better, that we as people will be better, that the world can be much fairer and cleaner. I think this is a very personal concert. And what you said – that for every violinist the concert sounds different – it seems to me that it is also an indicator of real, true music. As with Baha: for each of us, his music can reveal very different experiences, even if we listen to the same interpretation. When music becomes the discoverer of the composer’s inner world at a particular moment, it becomes a very intimate, personal experience. Furthermore
Peter Vasks’ music is like a door to childhood for me. When I play his works, it is like a return to oneself, to the purity of the child and even to the naivety that is always present in Peter’s works, no matter how dramatic they may be.
This purity and unimaginable crystal clear honesty are qualities that are very dear to me in his music. Only very few people have such human qualities, and even fewer are able to bring them to life in music.
I agree with you that music cannot be explained in words, but words can at least partially include the emotional experience we receive. And there really is something healing flowing from Peter’s music. And in general, it seems to me that in this work he has entrusted the violin with a monologue of the human soul …
Totally agree! Of those contemporary authors whose music I have played,
Pēteris Vasks’ writing style for the violin is the most humane – it is close to the intonation of human language and speech. It feels as if you are hearing a text.
I sometimes hear the melody of language in his music and see in it a resemblance to Mozart and Tchaikovsky. In the music of both of them, I always hear the intonation of human speech, the presence of a pronounced word. And it doesn’t matter exactly what language – most likely not at all, but this feeling remains. And it is also present in Peter’s music.
How did you meet the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Linta, with whom you collaborated in the recording?
Hanna has been known for many years – we have played very different repertoires in different countries, but the friendship with the Finnish Radio Orchestra is special, because with this orchestra we usually play 20th and 21st century music – also what is not very known, but what we want reveal to listeners. Together we have interpreted Sofia Gubaidulina’s Opera House, Schnittke’s Fourth Concert and now we have played and also recorded Peter Wax’s “Far Light”. The Finnish Radio Orchestra is completely unique with its absolute precision, the unimaginable speed with which they learn a new score, plus the even more amazing musicality. Such groups are quite rare and it is a great happiness to work together.
You and Han Linta were also going to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
Yes, it was planned to play it in May, unfortunately these concerts were canceled …
Just as the world premiere of Erki Sven Tire’s Violin Concerto, which was planned for you in collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra under Andris Poga, was canceled – we are very sorry about that, as well as the planned concerts of Peter Vask’s “Far Lights”.
Yes, these concerts have been canceled, but I hope they will be scheduled for next season. Among the concerts I offer to orchestras that invite me to collaborate, Pēteris Vasks’ “Far Light” is always in the top three.
In this album, the opus “Summer Dances” experiences the world premiere in your and Sanda Steinberg’s interpretation.
Yes, it is the world premiere, and it is very important to me that I managed to do it. But why am I in love with this music? This small suite has simplicity, naivety, but at the same time – very, very great depth. But again – everyone will feel something different in it.
The first thing that came to my mind was it, but for people who are not related to Latvian culture, it will be something else. But that doesn’t mean they won’t understand the music.
You recorded “Summer Dances” with Sandis Steinbergs, but how did you form a team for the Quartet recording?
I didn’t even have a question here that I want to work with … Several years ago, Ilze Kļava, Reini Birznieks and Sandis Šteinbergs already recorded one album with Max Bruh’s music. There was his Violin Concerto, to which we added a string quintet, which had not actually been played before – it had been forgotten and disappeared. And Maksims Risanovs was also with us in this recording, who also recorded a great album with music by Pēteris Vasks – together with the chamber orchestra “Sinfonietta Rīga”. When we started thinking about this album, it was completely natural that I turned to the same musicians – Ilze, Sanda and Reina. It was Ilze and Reinis who premiered the second version of the Vasco Piano Quartet as part of the quartet “RIX”. Because they are very familiar with this music, and their participation in this recording was very important to me.
Did you know that in a recent interview from all ten recordings of his quartet, Pēteris Vasks recognized exactly this – recorded on your album – as the best?
No, I didn’t know … Very nice!
By the way, how did your life unfold during the pandemic?
A lot of concerts were canceled. We can only speculate on opinion, right or wrong, but that is not up to us. (..) We played concerts online. I spend a lot of time leading master classes for young violinists around the world –
For the past three weeks, I have taught master classes for children from California to Australia, and that is very important when it comes to tomorrow. The new generation is tomorrow, it is hope.
And today, when we can’t be on stage, I think it’s very important to support them and show that they and what they do are important to us all. That’s why I consider master classes to be my mission.
But what about chamber music concerts, for example, together with your spouse Angel Joffi, whom you already meet at the Garden School? Do you have concerts in a small audience?
We plan to resume concerts in September – both online and at live concerts here in Chicago. Looking at my calendar, I hope the concerts will go as planned. I hope that we will resume normal concert life.
You once said that you can’t sleep at night after playing Shostakovich. What about playing music by Pēteris Vasks?
After the performances, I tend to have very different feelings – both great anxiety and depression.
But after the music of Shostakovich and Vasco, there is a complete feeling of emptiness – but not in a bad sense, no. It is a feeling that you have given yourself everything to this music and its discovery and there is nothing left in you.
But it is natural and it is the inspiration that wings us.