Georgs Pelēcis (1947, Latvian)

Composer from Latvia. A great scholar, especially in Medieval and Renaissance polyphony, and a guy whose aesthetic scope, for all his scholarship, seems to have stopped at Mahler. This is what he writes of his artistic stance:

“I invite my listeners to be aware that the evolution of music has not only been a progression, but also a long sequence of losses. These losses are a painful memory to me and I cannot break away from them. I try to save and re-establish as much as I can. For the average listener, as indeed for me, the scope of classical music (from Monteverdi to Mahler) is a paradise that invites us into the most sumptuous realms that the mind of a composer can imagine. The imagination of a composer contemplates and rejoices in a certain ideal, that of sonic perfection in all its dimensions. Who then has chased composers from this Garden of Eden? I’m afraid that they’ve done it by their own decision. But I won’t let myself be chased away. So I remain there and I feel good. I see myself almost as a gardener, part guardian and part creator of pretty things in the musical paradise that belongs to all of us”.

As a result, Pelēcis is one of those composers who, in the 1970s and 1980s, wrote sweet and sentimental music and was probably laughed at for doing so, respected for his scholarship but sneered at for his compositional outlook. But in the late 1980s and 1990s, with the demise of the avant-garde and the emergence of the neo-simplistic mystics like Gorecki, Pärt, Silvestrov or Tavener, it became apparently very hip to write sweet and sentimental music, and Pelēcis got more recorded exposure, thanks very much to the advocacy of his fellow Latvian Gidon Kremer (incidentally, they were born a few months apart). Well, I still sneer at it.  Pelēcis’ music is for those who equate paradise and sentimental film music. De gustibus… But I’m afraid it’s not the flowers of paradise that Pelēcis is gardening, but cheap plastic avatars salvaged from dumps.

See my reviews of:

“Nevertheless”, concerto for violin, piano and string orchestra. Gidon Kremer, Vadim Sacharov, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie (recorded April 1996) in “From My Home”: works of Dvarionas, Pärt, Barkauskas, Vasks, Pelēcis, Plakidis, Tüur. Teldec Classics 0630-14654-2 (1997)

Georgs Pelēcis: Revelation. Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica (recorded November 2005). Megadisc Classics MDC 7797 (2009)

“Flowering Jasmine”. Gidon Kremer (violin), Andrei Pushkarev (vibraphone), Kremerata Baltica, dir. Kremer (recorded 8-11 December 2008) in De Profundis”, with works of Sibelius, Pärt, Šerkšnytė, Schumann Nyman, Schubert, Tickmayer, Shostakovich, Auerbach, Piazzolla, Schnittke. Nonesuch 7559 79969 9 (2010)

Comments are welcome