Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Nocturne Op. 90 (1994)
Saxophone Concerto (1987)
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
Concerto Grosso (1956)

Villu Veski (clarinet)
Toomas Vavilov (clarinet)
ERSO Estonian National SO/Arvo Volmer
rec Tallin, Estonia, 1997-1998

Tamberg is little enough known in the West. His light-suffused music reared up in the 1960s and brought to Estonia some welcome international attention. Antes Edition (about whom we hear hardly a whisper) now do us great service by issuing this collection of his orchestral music.

Nocturne is a lapidary piece proceeding quite fluently in glistening jewel-like paces. Each pace is melodically symmetrical and there is a strong sense of progression rather than the disconnection usually associated with such musical constructs. The segments are charged with expectation and if, at 8.20, an outburst arrives like a bolt loosed by Allan Pettersson this is against the background of a blizzard of Haiku-'flakes' each ringing flake emotionally balanced (try 9.59).

The Saxophone Concerto (3 movements) is approached in much the same way but here the 'flakes' and melodic sequences are of longer duration. The singing quality of the instrument is well lit by Veski who also articulates its boiling caprices. If the Nocturne took at least one of its motifs from Nielsen's Fifth Symphony the concerto lisps in accents that to me recall the innocent music of Laurie in Copland's Tender Land.

Toomas Vavilov takes, with equal ease, to the far less ingratiating Clarinet Concerto, subtitled A sentimental journey with a clarinet (the literary reference is to Laurence Stern's eighteenth century picaresque novel). The music is hunted, and in its wispy patterings and thunderings bridges the Atlantic to the stark brass monoliths of William Schuman in works such as In Praise of Shahn and Three Colloquies.

From forty years earlier comes the irresistible Concerto Grosso for orchestra with solo voices for flute, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and piano. Fragmentation is no longer the order of the day. The harmony is succulent but uncloying. The innocent cavorting surely betrays the influence of the Shostakovich of the First Piano Concerto as well as the staccato impacts of de Falla's El Amor Brujo. The role taken by the woodwind is extremely lyrical with a flowing line and ease which I can best compare, in the first movement, with Prokofiev meets Finzi's clarinet concerto meets Moeran's Serenade. The clarinet in the central movement meanders into a refracted shadow of Bolero and a sincere song. Waltz memories shimmer amid glassy curtains of strings. The exciting finale rattles and scatters driven by trumpet and piano. A brilliant work which it would be no shame to Tamberg to bracket with Prokofiev and Gershwin but which, for me, is superior to both.

The audio 'picture' is very immediate, with a recording of very high quality. Programme notes are extensive.

An extremely rewarding and promising discovery.

Can we now hope to hear his other works? There are four symphonies (1978, 1986, 1989, 1998), a violin concerto (1981), ballet Johanna Tentata, two trumpet concertos (1972, 19997), oratorio Amores setting love poetry by Sappho and Ovid. There are also three operas of which the latest two are Cyrano de Bergerac (1976) and The Flight (1983).

I hope next to review the Antes Edition CD of Tamberg's Symphonies 1 and 2 and Violin Concerto, op.64 (Estonian RSO/N.Järvi, Estonian State SO/Peter Lilje, Botschkowa/State.SO/Peter Lilje) recorded in recorded 1978-86 and still, as far as I am aware, awaiting a review in the English-speaking press.

Rob Barnett


The disc priced @ approx £13.99. Can also be obtained from Kingdom Records Ltd, Clarendon House, Shenley Rd. Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1AG. enquiries Tel. 020 8207 7006 or via E-mail

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit