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Work of the Week – Pēteris Vasks: Oboe Concerto

On 5 October, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra open their season with the world premiere of Pēteris Vasks´ Oboe Concerto in Riga’s Great Guild, Latvia, with Andris Poga conducting and the internationally acclaimed Albrecht Mayer as soloist.

Vasks’ Oboe Concerto was commissioned by the LNSO in celebration of 100 years of Latvian independence, with support from Latvia’s Centenary Celebration programme. To mark the occasion, Vasks has written the Oboe Concerto as an ode to his home country, its nature and people. It is also a long-awaited solo piece for oboist Albrecht Mayer, who has been asking Vasks to compose a work for him for many years.

Pēteris Vasks – Oboe Concerto: between peaceful nature and fiery folk dance

The Oboe Concerto is book-ended by two pastoral movements. The first movement consists of extended oboe melodies accompanied by tremolos in the strings, while the woodwind imitate bird song, designed to aurally evoke a morning scene in Latvian nature. The middle movement strongly contrasts to the other movements, with arioso passages in the style of fiery folk dances. The concluding pastoral movement begins dramatically, then gradually dissipates into the peaceful sounds of nature reminiscent of the first movement.

The Oboe Concerto consists of three movements: the first is a morning pastorale, the second a festive scene, the third – an evening pastorale … I strived to imbue the work with my idea and sense of nature’s inexhaustible vitality and my people’s unceasing spirit. – Pēteris Vasks

Following the world premiere, the LNSO will stage a repeat performance on 6 October in Liepâja. In both concerts the Oboe Concerto will be accompanied by Vasks’ Musica appassionata for string orchestra.