Oi šala, šala
(Oh, it’s getting cold) is a remarkable example of economy of means—an evocative extended piece emerging from relatively few melodic fragments. The repetition of ‘šala’, with its deliberate emphasis on the ‘sh’ sound, evokes the shivers of a hard winter. This texture stops for ‘Padange nušvito nakti, Patekejo zvaigzdes degti’ (The sky lights up at night, and shines with the rising stars), where three voices echo each other from on high. Another solo voice narrates the next section which has a ritualistic feel with the addition of a bell to mark the end of each phrase. The final line, ‘Ka laposi azuoleli?’, is hard to translate, but relates back to the pagan belief that when ancestors died their souls would live in a tree. The life of a young man is therefore compared to the growing branches of an oak tree. This ancient symbolism is not lost on contemporary Lithuanians, hence the name of the Lithuanian Boys’ Choir, run by Miškinis: Azuoliukas.
from notes by Rupert Gough © 2010