Pēteris Vasks

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Pēteris Vasks (born 16 April 1946) is a Latvian composer.

Vasks was born in Aizpute, Latvia, into the family of a Baptist pastor. He trained as a violinist at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, as a double-bass player with Vitautas Sereikaan at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, and played in several Latvian orchestras before entering the State Conservatory in Vilnius in the neighboring Lithuania to study composition with Valentin Utkin, as he was prevented from doing this in Latvia due to Soviet repressive policy toward Baptists. He started to become known outside Latvia in the 1990s, when Gidon Kremer started championing his works and now is one of the most influential and praised European contemporary composers.

Vasks' early style owed much to the aleatoric experiments of Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki and George Crumb. Later works included elements of Latvian folk music, such as his gentle and pastoral cor anglais concerto (1989). His works are generally extremely clear and communicative, with a solid and muscular sense of harmony. Lyrical passages may be followed by agitated dissonances, or interrupted by sombre sections with a march-like feel. He made extensive use of minimalist techniques as well, but never became a slave to any particular method.

Vasks feels strongly about environmental issues, and a sense of nature both pristine and destroyed can be found in many of his works, such as the String Quartet No. 2 (1984). Other important works include Cantabile (1979) and Musica dolorosa (1984) and "Bass Trip" (2003) for solo double bass. He has written five string quartets, the fourth (2003) and fifth (2006) of which were written for the Kronos Quartet.

Vasks was the recipient of the Vienna Herder Prize of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in 1996 and the Latvian Grand Music Award in 1997, the latter for his violin concerto Tālā Gaisma (1996-7). He received the Cannes Classical Awards|Cannes Classic Award in 2004. His important works also include "Viatore", Symphony #2 and "Music for a deceased Friend".

Since 1994 he has been an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and in 2001 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In 1996 he was the main composer at the Stockholm New Music Festival and in 2006 composer-in-residence at the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts and the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales.

In 2005 he received the Estonian honour the Order of the White Star, 3rd Class.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1993 Cantabile per archi / Botschaft / Musica dolorosa / Symphonie "Stimmen" Pēteris Vasks 1
1996 Cello Concerto Pēteris Vasks; Riga Philharmonic Orchestra, Jonas Aleksa, David Geringas 1
1996 Chamber Music Pēteris Vasks 1
1997 Dolorosa Shostakovich, Vasks, Schnittke; Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Dennis Russell Davies 1
1999 Distant Light / Voices Pēteris Vasks; Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer 1
2001 Māte saule Pēteris Vasks; Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava, Kaspars Putniņš 1
2003 Symphony no. 2 / Violin Concerto "Distant Light" Pēteris Vasks; Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Juha Kangas 1
2004 Violin Concerto "Distant Light" / Musica Dolorosa / Viatore Pēteris Vasks; Katarina Andreasson, Svenska Kammarorkestern 1
2004 Message Pēteris Vasks; Riga Philharmonic Orchestra, Krišs Russman 1
2005 Concerto for Violin & Wind Orchestra, op. 12 / Concerto for Violin & String Orchestra "Distant Light" Kurt Weill, Pēteris Vasks; Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Anthony Marwood 1
2005 Music for Cello Solo A. Raskatov, A. Knaifel, S. Gubaidulina, P. Vasks, V. Ekimovsky, A. Schnittke; Alexander Ivashkin 1
2006 Symphony no. 3 / Cello Concerto Pēteris Vasks; Marko Ylönen, Tampere Filharmonia, John Storgårds 1
2007 Pater noster / Dona nobis pacem / Missa Pēteris Vasks; Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Rīga, Sigvards Kļava 1
2008 Grāmata čellam / Partita / Episodi e canto perpetuo Pēteris Vasks; David Geringas, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Kalle Randalu 1
2008 Canti drammatici Johannes Brahms, Pēteris Vasks; Ensemble Raro 1
2009 Alone: Works for Solo Cello Ligeti, Hindemith, Crumb, Ho, Vasks, Sòllima; Li-Wei 1
2010 The Seasons Pēteris Vasks; Vestards Šimkus 1
2011 Te deum Pēteris Vasks; Tuomas Pyrhönen 1
2012 Vox amoris Pēteris Vasks; Sinfonietta Rīga, Juha Kangas, Alina Pogostkina 1
2012 Plainscapes Pēteris Vasks; Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava 1
2012 Schulhoff: Five Pieces for String Quartet / Webern: Langsamer Satz / Rääts: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, op. 16 / Vasks: String Quartet no. 4 Schulhoff, Webern, Rääts, Vasks; Prezioso String Quartet 1
String Quartets Pēteris Vasks; Miami String Quartet 1

Single

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2003 String Quartet no. 4 Pēteris Vasks; Kronos Quartet 1

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