Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

NEW. ŠARŪNAS NAKAS - CIPHER (2017, Garsai ir blyksniai). Secret targets: Vilne and Cenotaph

To speak about one of the most famous and interesting composers of Lithuania (and not only) is really hard. I remember my first encounter with Šarūnas Nakas, when i asked his advice should i write a history of Lithuanian rock music (it was published in 2011). He told me strictly: how can you do it, you are not a musician! Well, yes, i am not a composer, and he was right, anyway, i write about music in my way. Now, the same situation as several years ago: can i write about this kind of music (modern classical) when i am not an Academy graduate? Yes, i can. At least, i will try.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2017 m. Spalio 12 d., 12:55
Skaityta: 50 k.
NEW. ŠARŪNAS NAKAS - CIPHER (2017, Garsai ir blyksniai). Secret targets: Vilne and Cenotaph

So, the newest album of Šarūnas Nakas, Cipher, consists of four pieces:





The first piece, Cenotaph, is a monumental creation for violin, cello and piano created in 1995. It's recorded by FortVio trio: Ingrida Rupaitė-Petrikienė, Povilas Jacunskas, Indrė Baikštytė. The piece lasts almost eleven minutes.

The second piece, Cipher, was created this year for percussion, piano, musicque concrète and noise. It is 31 minute musical secret performed by Nakas himself (piano) together with famous musician Arkady Gotesman (percussion).

Vilne is dedicated to famous Yiddish language writer, poet Moyshe Kulbak (משה קולבאַק‎; 1896, Smarhoń – 1937, near Minsk). Here, some fragments of his poem about Vilne (Vilnius, capital of Lithuania) is performed by Nakas again (voice, synthesizer), his son, very talented pianist who is recording his debut album in New York City right now, Giedrius Nakas (piano) and A. Gotesman (percussion). This piece makes me shiver and remember horrors of Shoah. It is almost fourteen minutes long. The very poem Vilne is also printed in this digipak CD in Lithuanian and English.

Target is almost fifteen minutes piece for seven cellos performed by Nakas too.

The album, which in total makes more than seventy minutes of music, in general makes a really strange impression. It differs from other albums and compositions by Nakas being very "serious", deep and mysterious. Even his famous Ziqqurat wasn't so mysterious...

What is the Cipher of Šarūnas Nakas??

The answer could be in the second text printed out in the digipak CD: an excerpt from the diary of Lithuanian partisan Lionginas Baliukevičius-Dzūkas (1925-1950), written a year or two before his death: I lie around all day, and can't get anything done. I keep thinking about the future.

So forget your troubles, listen to the deep music of Nakas, think about the future and know that YOU CAN DO SOMETHING. Do not lie down. The Cipher means: act, do something, do not be passive.

This is my interpretation only, of course.

I am very impressed of Nakas' Cipher. Maybe because i live in Vilne, where, as M. Kulbak wrote, JOY IS SORROW?

Šarūnas Nakas. Photo by Algimantas Aleksandravičius

Biography, from

Šarūnas Nakas (b. 1962) is a composer, essayist, conductor, performance and video art­ist, organiser of contemporary music festivals and presenter of radio programmes. As a composer, he was educated at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he studied with Prof. Julius Juzeliūnas (graduating in 1986), and at the composition courses in Poland (1989–1991) and the IRCAM in Paris (1998). In 1982, he founded the Vilnius New Music Ensemble, with which he has toured in 15 European countries and Canada for eighteen consecutive years. In 2001, he wrote the first Lithuanian textbook on contemporary music. His works have garnered him several prizes at the Lithuanian Composers’ Union’s competitions (1996, 1998, 2002). His distinctions also include awards for programming of the festivals and introducing novelties into Lithuania’s musical life (1997, 2002), prizes for his writings (2003) and promotion of Lithuanian music (2005). In 2007, he was awarded the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize.  In 2012, became a recipient of the Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Memorial Medal "In Service of Lithuania" for his socially relevant writings.

Šarūnas Nakas’ works have enjoyed popularity with distinguished inter­national performers, including Ensemble die reihe and Windkraft Tirol (Austria), KammarensembleN (Sweden), Piano Circus, Icebreaker and Singcircle (UK), Ergo Ensemble (Canada), Agon Orchestra (Czech Republic), Vilnius New Music Ensemble, Chordos String Quartet, Gaida Ensemble, Vilnius Festival Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. His music has reached the audiences in many notable festivals and venues, such as Wien Modern (2003), MaerzMusik in Berlin (2003), BONK in Tampa, USA (2001), The Cutting Edge (1999) and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (1995), Aperitivo in Concerto in Milan (1999), New Music Marathon Prague (1998, 1999), Osterfestival Tirol in Innsbruck (1996), Prague Spring (1995), Gaida (1996, 1999–2006, 2009) and Jauna Muzika in Vilnius (1994–1996, 2002, 2003, 2007), Vilnius Festival (2006), as well as those in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Indonesia.

Šarūnas Nakas is one of the most radical contemporary Lithuanian composers. Nakas links the concept of modern art with anti-romantic perception of form, sound, and space. What is important for Nakas is the freedom of ideas and the constructive order of their implementation. Many of Šarūnas Nakas’ works exhibit extraordinary sound mass, concentrated energy, and long-lasting tension. At times, his musical language approaches standards of hyper-complexity developed in the current decades.

Šarūnas Nakas’ works are constructed around diverse means of expression – from diatonic scales and natural harmonic series to microintervalic structures, from noises to birdsongs, from Indian rhythms to simultaneous sound of different music styles. The slow progress of static music thus be­comes thwarted with energetic gusts of intensity, the monotony is contrasted with ecstasy. Ebbs and flows of the abstract musical material seem to depend on an allegedly irrational logic that disguises structural manipulation.

The musicologist Rūta Goštautienė said about Nakas’ music: “Unlike his contemporaries who responded to the ex­pansion of digital technologies and the new musical revolution it entailed, Nakas did not turn towards non-academic music. In the age of digital explosion, his turn is in a way even more radical. What connects him to the new musical reality is his musical material per se, inspired by technological production and bearing traces of technological manipulation. The composer’s ‘digital imagination’ becomes embedded in sound even in the compositions for acoustic instruments – through specific rhythmic, dynamic and textural structuring, or by enhancing certain timbres. This post-technological sound vocabulary and structures derived from it resist meditation. But one can get immersed in the ocean of sound, overwhelmed by the monotony and grandeur of music.”