The beginning of the Péteris Vasks’s Distant Light is reminiscent of Sibelius’s famous Violin Concerto: a distant and lonely violin raises its voice, and after a while the dark sound of the orchestra looms in the background. Both works evoke images of deserted white plains, bordered by mountain ranges, but also of a turbulent interior landscape.
Violinist Daniel Rowland first fell in love with ‘Distant Light’ as a very young man, an attachment that has stayed in his mind to this day; last summer he appointed Vasks as composer-in-residence for his Stift Festival around Weerselo. Rowland had a live recording made of the Vasks concert in the Plechelmusbasiliek in Oldenzaal.
What is often missing from a studio recording can be found here in abundance: the tangible tension and magic of the moment, the music portraying the edge of the abyss. There is an urgency. It has to happen ‘here and now’. And it happens.
The above is a very rough translation of the original review, written in Dutch.