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2007-08-20

Final Chapter of Rytis Mažulis at the Megadisc Classics Catalogues [Classical / Contemporary]


"Mažulis is a composer whose music I really want to bring into focus; his music should definitely be better known in the world," claims Patric de Clerck, a Flemish composer, concert producer and executive of the record company Megadisc Classics. A concrete plan has been already implemented: his record company released three CDs of Mažulis' music. First release, Cum essem parvulus comprises four of his vocal compositions, the second, Twittering Machine is a further quartet of his pieces, this time for computer-controlled grand piano. In this summer Megadisc Classics has released the third album Form Is Emptiness as a final chapter of Mažulis' Trilogy. "As usual the final chapter shows who is Master and who is not. This one is... Master Mažulis!", - says the publisher about the new release.

 

The composer labelled as 'superminimalist' and 'machinist' limits his music to the single technique of canon. His work can be encapsulated by the oxymorons like 'minimalist maximalism', or 'complex simplicity', or 'dynamic stasis'. Having little concern for performers' needs and abilities, his pure, intellectually constructed music leaves few of the listeners indifferent: it is either praised or openly despised. Notwithstanding that, he applies his technique with impressive consistency and explores numerous ways and transformations of the key idea of canon. 'Diverse uniformity' is one more paradoxical characteristic of Rytis Mažulis' music.


In his new piece Form is Emptiness for 12 voices, cello and electronics, which is the central track in the third Mažulis' portrait album, the composer further explores microtonal structures and creates a specific acoustic ritual, excellently embodied by the Latvian Radio Chamber Singers (artistic leader Kaspars Putniņš) and cellist Mindaugas Bačkus. "The quiet fog of trance, almost immaterial dimensions of sound," writes musicologist Gražina Daunoravičienė introducing the work. The CD also incudes well-known microtonal compositions Canon mensurabilis for chamber ensemble, Sans pause for string quartet, and Monad for nine harpsichords.

 

The critics feel challenged by Mažulis music. "Take note of this Lithuanian," Grant Chu Covell says in La Folia and highlights Cum essem parvulus released by Megadisc Classics as one of the most interesting releases of the year 2004. The Musicweb critic Hubert Culot claims: "Mažulis' music, as heard here, is ritualistic in its own way. It displays a keen ear for beguiling textures and a considerably imaginative ability to build on the age-old canon form. [...] Not easy stuff, quite unlike anything else I have been able to listen to up to now: thought-provoking or overtly provocative, but well worth trying. Mažulis' music inhabits a world entirely of its own."

 

Joshua Meggitt from the experimental electronic music magazine Grooves writes about Twittering machine: "the Lithuanian composer uses repetition in a manner not dissimilar to pioneers like Glass and Reich, but doesn’t share their interest in melodic simplicity or phasing. Rather, Mazulis constructs wildly chaotic cells that only become more complex with each passing cycle. There is a symmetry to these revolutions, but it’s fractured, with intervals broken into irrational micro-durations, making sense in the way chaos theory does. [...] The most obvious reference is Conlon Nancarrow and his player-piano studies, only Mazulis’ work is much more visceral and jagged and, being played on a modern disklavier piano, offers a richer, more resonant sound. The opening movement of the two-part title track contains the disc’s most gripping riff, an almost hummable tune of dissonant zig-zagging notes that, after numerous cycles, sticks in the brain like a fishhook. “Part II” splits a Nancarrow saloon rag into multiple conflicting streams, a clumsy bass line thumped out with fists contrasting with families of fireflies dancing on the high notes. [...] Twittering Machine is what being clubbed to death by 88 small, padded hammers must feel like—some of the most powerful music I’ve heard in years."


The Belgian label Megadisc Classics was founded in 1993 as a small company to become the reference label for less known or recorded Eastern, Central European and Flemish composers, such as Galina Ustvolskaya, Valentin Silvestrov, Avet Terterian, Lepo Sumera, Karel Goeyvaerts, Wim Hendrickx, and many other prominent names. Currently run by the composer and former producer with Megadisc, Patrick De Clerck, who began talent scouting in Lithuania a few years ago, the company finally chose the music of Rytis Mažulis to be released in three portrait editions in 2004-2007.


All three discs are released in collaboration with the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre, the project has been supported by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. 

 

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