This CD was recorded by the Jauna Muzika Choir (conductor Vaclovas Augustinas) in 2000.
Čiurlionis started to harmonise folk songs in 1904 (?) - 1908. At that time he led the choir of the Society of Mutual Aid of Warsaw Lithuanians, and later the choir of the “Vilniaus Kanklės” Society. These choirs lacked a Lithuanian repertoire, particularly folk songs adapted for a choir. Čiurlionis became actively engaged in creative and social work in this field. In 1908 the composer’s first collection “Sky-Lark” for Lithuanian school choirs was compiled and published. “Let’s not forget the big responsibility that we have to bear. We are the first Lithuanian composers, and the coming generations will set our works as examples. We are a kind of link between folk songs and future Lithuanian music…” wrote the composer.
In 1905-09 Čiurlionis created his most important paintings and musical compositions. These were the years of his highest creative achievement.
All choral compositions by Čiurlionis can be divided into three groups: original compositions with religious texts (1898-1902), harmonised and adapted folk songs (1905-09) and compositions to lyrics by Sofija Kymantaitė-Čiurlionienė.
Čiurlionis’ adaptations of harmonised folk songs are markedly different from harmonisations by other contemporary authors. The composer had deep perception and understanding of the origin of folk songs, their emotional link with nature and the difficult life and work of the village man. “Monotony of rhythm is one of the most important qualities of our songs and, I dare say, the most beautiful one. This monotony endows them with noble serenity, and as you listen to them longer, you start to feel their deep mysticism… There are many similar classical compositions, /…/ but those melodies, i.e. our genuine ancient songs born in the depths of the soul make the strongest impact on us and have the power of fascination”, wrote Čiurlionis in his article About Music (Vilnius, 1960. – p. 299).
“Čiurlionis’ method is to attune the voice parts and to individualise a song. Every one of his songs is different and composed in a different way. The means he uses are quite refined and bold, but also dignified and varied in the range of a uniform style. The composer uses a compact-sounding choir, attenuated texture with explicit timbres, colourful harmonies of alternated chords and melodious counterpoints; he is fond of a wide and free bass line in the interval of one-and-a-half-line octave and the monotonous ostinato of prima and secunda, emotional outbreaks of men’s voices (tenor in a mixed choir), imitations, canon, vertical change of counterpoint… All this masterful assortment of means helps him to create scarce but purposeful images; at the same time he takes care not to violate the perfect simplicity of folk songs that have accumulated the extraordinary value of meaning and form throughout the centuries. /…/ Having taken an unchangeable folk melody as a point of departure, Čiurlionis devoted all his attention to the tonal, verbal and visual content of the song.” (Vytautas Landsbergis, Čiurlionis’ Music. – Vilnius: Vaga Publishers, 1986. – p. 156-57).
Choir “Jauna muzika” was formed in 1989. In 1994, having won a competition, it became the choir of the Vilnius Municipality. During 10 years of its creative activity it took part in 14 international competitions of choirs and in twelve of them won prizes. In 1993 the choir won Grand Prix Europeo in Varna (Bulgaria). The choir’s repertoire is very wide, ranging from Renaissance motets to most complex scores of the 20th century, and includes compositions by Bach, Vivaldi, Schutz, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Poulenc, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Ligeti, Part and contemporary Lithuanian composers; oratorios, cantatas and masses by Handel, Bach and Mozart, Requiem by Verdi, Oedipus Rex by Stravinsky, Jerusalem Psalms by Sheriff, Jeanne d’Arc au bucher by Honegger, rock opera Jesus Christ Super Star by Weber etc.
The choir has given concerts in Japan, Israel, many European countries and Lithuanian cities. It sang with the symphonic orchestras of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Moscow Virtuosos, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, symphonic orchestras of Ludwigsburg festival and Berlin, the Lithuanian National Symphonic Orchestra and the Lithuanian State Symphonic Orchestra; the choir’s conductors were Pinch Steinberg, Micholas McGegan, Noam Sheriff, Wolfgang Goinenvein, David Shallon, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vladimir Spivakov, Rinaldo Allesandrini, Saulius Sondeckis and Gintaras Rinkevičius.