Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Veljo TORMIS (b.1930)
Childhood Memory
(Herding Calls) for soprano and male chorus (1982)
Voices from Tammsaare's Herdboy Days
- documentary cantata for male chorus, soloists, phonogram and percussion (1977)
Songs of the Ancient Sea
North Russian Bylina
for male chorus and soloists (1976)
Conscript's Escape from Toompea Castle Home to Kuusalu
Vepsian Winter
for male chorus (1984)
God Protect Us From War
for male chorus and tam-tam (1984)
Estonian National Male Chorus/Olev Oja
rec 1994, Tallinn, Estonia


Virile, sincere, unpretentious, Veljo Tormis writes choral music which is far closer to the cold and active green roots of folk life than the average aspirant to folk music in the concert hall. Of course it helps in this case that his performance foundation is a chorus whose execution is precise and coordinated. The tone of these male ensemble singers is without blemish - masculine and full or abrasive impact. The muscularity with which both forte and piano are delivered is testament to their achievement. They would vie with Milkov's Bulgarians or Sveshnikov's Russians if ever they decided to take on the Rachmaninov Chrysostum Liturgy or the Vespers.

A pupil of Shebalin, Tormis graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1956. Emulating Kodaly, Grainger and Holmboe, Tormis collected folksong from remote Estonian villages between 1960 and 1965. This wellspring interacted with his activity with top-flight male voice choruses in and around Tallinn. Commissions from the choruses have resulted in some 60 choral cycles.

As you listen to this music impressions flood in: seagull cries, an almost orchestral sound from the choirs, a suggestion of the cold earth and chilled stone. There are cattle calls taken by solo soprano in recall of the Nordic tradition of sendiing the daughters to the high hills in summer to care for the stock. This music is more rugged than the Auvergnat traditions lovingly encased by Canteloube. The documentary cantata has yet more variety with old female singers nicely integrated with the sound of cow bells on tape. The Ancient Sea Songs are all grey-green swell, vibrant cries of male voices: mouth imitations of wind and wave. The North Russian Bylina is typically Slav with hardly a breath taken by the dark-toned choir. The Escape is a lovely light piece on with male chorus heartinesss. God Protect Us is positively rich in tone enhanced by use of a tam-tam.

A refreshingly different musical experience. If you are jaded with the Anglican choral tradition do try to track down this disc. Yet more are available from the Warner catalogue.

Rob Barnett



The US Distributors do not offer mail order or direct order services. All their CDs are reported available in retail stores and internet retailers such as,, and $11.98 is the suggested list price for retailers. Artists Only! only have North American rights for this CD from the Estonian FORTE label.

Further details from distributors:-Artists Only! Records

West Coast Office
9644 Lochinvar St
Pico Rivera
phone 562 948 3008
fax 562 948 2608

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