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Osvaldas Balakauskas (born 1937) is one of Lithuania's most important composers, and also a diplomat and politician who took an active part in the Lithuanian independence movement and who was later the country's ambassador to France, Spain and Portugal. He studied music in Vilnius and later with Boris Lyatoshinsky in Kiev, becoming fascinated by the music of Boulez, Messiaen, Stockhausen, Webern and Xenakis, and by the Ukrainian avant-garde.

Osvaldas Balakauskas, August 2003
Osvaldas Balakauskas, August 2003

Cascades-3, the third in a series of piano pieces, was written especially for Tamami Honma. The music was completed just a couple of weeks before this first performance, but this seems to have provided no problems for the pianist. (She did play from a score for this one piece only!) Presenting, in a single movement, a continuous stream of changing ideas, the music is complex, jazzy and bluesy, with varying tempi making it sound quite quirky. It touches on the soundworld of Conlon Nancarrow's player piano pieces, and there's also an impressionist feel to the music's flashes of colour and changing dynamics.

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Copyright © 14 October 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire UK


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