Latvian American composer Dace Aperāne (or ‘Aperans’ internationally) has long been a significant presence in Latvian academic music. Beyond being a distinguished composer, Aperāne has been a tireless promoter of Latvian music internationally for decades now, ensuring that many Latvian composers and performers were heard by American audiences. Aperāne also helps organize the bi-yearly young Latvian musician camp, initially in Canada, and, in later years, in Latvia. Her expressive and nuanced music has been performed all over the world.
Recognizing not just the talent, but also the significance of this diaspora composer, the Latvian Music Information Centre released a CD of Aperāne’s piano works, performed by pianist Diāna Zandberga, entitled Skaņas un atskaņas (Sounds and Echoes) in 2015. This CD is the latest release in the LMIC’s Latvian Composers series.
One of Aperāne’s influences is folk songs, both from Latvia and other countries. The tender and delicate Latvian lullaby “Netīšām es iegāju” is fragile and delicate, not to mention beautiful and uniquely Latvian. Latvian pianist Liene Circene also included her interpretation of this work on her 2009 album Šūpuļdziesmas, as it is no surprise that this piece has inspired many pianists.
Turning towards American culture, the album also contains “Allegheny Air” and “Allegheny Dance”, inspired by the folk songs of the Appalachian Mountains. While “Air” is the calmer piece, providing a sonic portrayal of the scenic mountains, “Dance”, with its irregular rhythms, is a spirited and energetic dance, brought to vivid life by pianist Zandberga.
The slow and deliberate dance “Sarabande”, in a baroque style, is an engaging mix of the classical and the modern, and its alternating loud and quiet sections create an echo effect, of a melody travelling a great distance.
Zandberga, besides performing, is also the arranger of many of the works on the album – many of them were not originally written for solo piano, but for duo piano, chamber ensembles, and even orchestra – such as the music from the ballet Edith (based on the life of French singer Edith Piaf). The three pieces included on the album – “Dance of the Sparrow”, “Intermission”, and “Dance of Friends”, are imbued with a French charm, sprightly and energetic, and even a touch of humor. Zandberga’s arrangement retains all of the depth of the orchestra, but, at the same time, the arrangement for solo piano gives the music a particular intimacy.
The CD booklet includes biographies of both Aperāne and Zandberga, as well as notes on all the compositions in both Latvian and English.
The composer will preview the album, along with a performance by the THEIA Piano Trio (Aija Reke, violin, Daniel Dickson, cello and Han Nah Son, piano) at the Latvian church in Yonkers, New York on January 31.
Skaņas un atskaņas is another excellent release from the Skani label, celebrating the work of Dace Aperāne, a truly distinguished composer and someone long overdue for a retrospective compilation. Aperāne’s compositions, bringing together a broad range of international influences to form a unique and individual style, reveal a depth and warmth that will affect and remain with all listeners. In the hands of pianist Diāna Zandberga, these small gems come vividly to life, displaying a broad panorama of sounds and melodies. Skaņas un atskaņas is a truly memorable album of piano music.
For further information, please visit the Skani website.
Sounds and Echoes
Dace Aperāne – composer, Diāna Zandberga – piano
LMIC, LMIC/SKANI044, 2015
- Three Haiku – I. Bell in the Mist
- Song of the Goddess
- Still – White Snow
- Allegheny Air
- Allegheny Dance
- Dos Suenos – I.Cantiga
- Netīšāmi es iegāju
- Kokles dziesma
- Nocturnes — I.Lento cantabile
- Andante expressive
- The Red Balloon
- Music from the Ballet Edith — I. Dance of the Sparrow
- Draugu Deja
- Romance from the musical Green Star
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