Onutė Narbutaitė – Vasara – 5:4

Today’s featured work is one for the southern hemisphere, now entering its warmest months of the year. Composed in 1991, Lithuanian composer Onutė Narbutaitė‘s Vasara is a miniature choral homage to the season of summer. The words, written by the composer, have a nostalgic flavour, looking back at the experiences of summer (possibly from many years ago) from the perspective of autumn’s imminent arrival.

The piece expresses this wistfulness with a playful, celebratory energy, spending the first 30 seconds indulging in rhythmic onomatopoeic noises and patterns suggesting the sounds of birds and insects, the most obvious being a cuckoo. When the words begin, they’re articulated as lilting phrases tilting back and forth over a static harmonic foundation (suggesting G# minor). However, there’s little lingering over the words at all, the memories of summer are practically gabbled out in an exuberant torrent that’s all about the joy of the experiences rather than sadness that they’re over.

Just twice the music pulls back, first savouring the middle sequence about clouds resembling ships floating in the sky, and then again towards the end, as day comes to an end. After which the piece finishes as it began, filled with the sounds of summer, rhythmically dying away into the night.

This performance of Vasara was given by the Swedish Radio Choir (Radiokören) conducted by Giedré Slekyté.


Text

Vasara vasara
vasara vasara
lakstėm basi
braukdami ryto rasą
miške rinkom žemuoges
skruzdės bėgiojo pušų žievėmis
dūzgė bitė virš dobilo
vėjas sujudino smilgas
dundėjo griaustinis
lietaus lašiukus nuo jurginų žiedų
rinko saulė
kvepėjo sakai
ošė liepos
upely dainavo varlė
mes gulėjom žolėj
ir žiūrėjom į dangų

O debesys debesys
debesys debesys
plaukė balti dideli
lyg laivai plaukė debesys
plaukė dangum

Bėgom prie jūros
ieškoti kriauklelių baltų
radom daug akmenėlių gražių
paišėm plunksnom ant smėlio
švelnus buvo jūros vanduo
vakarinė šviesa glostė viržius
sugrįžom namo
tamsoje jaukiai švietė langai
griežė pievoj svirpliai
ir virš marių pakilo mėnulis

Summertime summertime
summertime summertime
we ran about barefoot
splashing morning dew
we picked wild strawberries in the forest
and the ants were running on the bark of pines
the bee was humming atop the clover
wind moved the bent grasses
thunder rumbled
rain droplets from dahlia blooms
were picked out by the sun
the trees were scented with resin
the lindens rustled
the frog sang in the stream
we were lying in the grass
and looking at the sky

And clouds clouds
clouds clouds
huge white clouds floated
like ships sailing in the clouds
floating in the sky

We ran to the sea
to search for little white cockleshells
we found many pretty pebbles
we made drawings on sand with feathers
the sea was warm
the twilight caressed the heather
when back home,
windows glowed cosily in the darkness
the crickets chirped in the meadow,
and the moon rose over the sea

tock tock, thrrr thrrr, katydid katydid, oo-ee-oo, etc.

—Onutė Narbutaitė (transl. Linas Paulauskis)



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