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.
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 Amazon.com, TowerRecords.com, and CDNow.com.
$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
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9644 Lochinvar St
phone 562 948 3008
fax 562 948 2608