On May 17 at cinema Splendid Palace the album presentation of the audiovisual project “Rothko in Jazz” was held. During the concert, audience had the chance to enjoy musical as well as visual art – ten original pieces composed by renowned Latvian composers and arranged in jazz combined with Mark Rothko’s artwork projected on a large screen.
The project is based on the synergy between music and art – not only Rothko’s paintings illustrate the musical material, but also the other way around – each composition reflects the specific mood of the painting.
In general, 10 original compositions were performed. These musical pieces were created by ten renown Latvian composers – Lolita Ritmanis, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Arturs Maskats, Rihards Dubra, Pēteris Vasks, Jēkabs Jančevskis, Vilnis Šmīdbergs, Jēkabs Nīmanis, Georgs Pelēcis un Raimonds Pauls. Each of the compositions together with Rothko’s painting was like an extraordinary experience. Audience heard the romantic “Love’s theme” (Ēriks Ešenvalds), reflecting “Memories landscape” (Rihards Dubra), expressive “Yellow-and-red” (Artūrs Maskats), as well as folksy “Autumnal” (Pēteris Vasks). The list could be continued since each one of the compositions stands out with originality, specific mood and outstanding performance.
The gem of the program is Maris Briezkalns Quintet (MBQ) whose arrangements with improvisations complemented the compositions with jazz harmonies. The musicians of the MBQ – Māris Briežkalns (drums), Viktors Ritovs (piano), Edvīns Ozols (double bass), Gints Pabērzs (saxophones), Raimonds Macats (harmonica, electric cello) – balanced the relaxed solo parts with more expressive improvisations.
The idea that jazz musicians are influenced by Rothko’s paintings is good itself, but here is also the cooperation with composers, moreover – academic music composers. That makes this project even more interesting. So creative, so bright! – Musicologist Boriss Avramecs
This was quite unexpected and unusual cooperation project for me. There are excellent musicians playing in Māris Briežkalns Quintet, who raised the composition on even higher level. – Composer Artūrs Maskats
The final piece of the program was jazzy “Swing of Dvinsk” composed by Maestro Raimods Pauls – a composition that allowed musicians to fully demonstrate their virtuosity.
In conclusion, it seems that composers as well as musicians of Māris Briežkalns Quintet have perceived the Mark Rothko abstract expressionism’s soul portrayals and even more – have given them a new life – this time in music.
This is an excellent way of presenting Rothko’s artwork to people – not only by showing the paintings, but also through the musical texture. It is well known that Rothko himself was influenced by music. – Farida Zaletilo, Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre