The reinvention of folk song as art (particularly of the polyphonic rounds found only in the northwest of the country) and the use of repetition to generate large spans of music were the basis of what, in the 1970s, became known as Lithuanian Minimalism. Initially quite distinct from the American variety in both origin and intention, the work of Lithuanian minimalists eventually took on some of the characteristics of their transatlantic contemporaries. There are strong hints of this in the music of Vytautas Miškinis. Since 1985 Miškinis has been a member of the choral conducting department at the Academy of Music in Vilnius, and has a busy and distinguished career as a choral director throughout Lithuania and beyond, as well as finding time to compose over 500 pieces. In 2002 he was Lithuania’s most internationally performed composer.
Angelis suis Deus was written as a fortieth birthday present for Stephen Layton and is an immaculately crafted miniature. The neat ternary structure consists of, effectively, three mini-passacaglias, the repeating harmonic and rhythmic cycles of the tenors and basses being overlaid with chordal pulsation and delicious melodic interplay. It is a simple and approachable piece, the flattened sixths and sevenths of its harmony deftly skirting sentimentality, and the composer eschews a word-by-word response to the text in favour of a quietly pervasive air of gentle exultation.
from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2010