> Livonia - Old Estonian Songs and Dances [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Laulan Mere Maaksi - Old Estonian Songs and Dances

Suur tamm
Laula, kuni elad
Òhtu iruà
Sööge, laungud
Rikas ja vaene
Laulan mere maaksi
Lòpe, pòld
Oh, jumal
Valmi, vòike
Kullast Kodu

Svea Juckum-Bentz, voice, violin, hurdy-gurdy, recorder, harp
Roland Bentz, voice, bass-veille, hurdy-gurdy, vielle, recorder, harp, percussion
Gottfried Madner, percussion
Rec: No information given.
LIVONIA LIV 2001 [50.41]


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This is a disc of old Estonian folksongs, of a form called ‘rune-songs’. It contains music that dates back to the first millennium before Christ, when, "the people of Estonia still worshipped nature and its gods". At least that’s what the notes say. For want of more extensive information, I assume that these tunes are ancient but the arrangements are certainly not. Most likely, these songs were only sung; the addition of such instruments as violin and vielle came much later.

In any case, this is a very interesting recording. Some of the songs recall the music of French troubadours, with their almost hypnotic rhythms and the intense sounds of mild chromaticism. Others have the tone of what became bluegrass music, with lively, swaying rhythms that sound ideal for square dancing, and others sound almost Celtic in origin. (Unfortunately, there are a couple that also sound like also-rans in the Eurovision song contest.)

But this disc is quite satisfying, giving a glimpse into a musical culture that is, for many of us, unknown. As music from other cultures becomes increasingly prominent, it is essential to have available such works that date back into the shadows of time. This group does a fine job in projecting their enthusiasm for this music, and this disc is quite enjoyable.

For more info visit: www.klangwerk.at/Livonia/

Kirk McElhearn

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