The Latvian composer, Ugis Praulins has been good at
keeping this site up to date with his latest productions. His music
is delightful and light on the ear and yet embraces sufficient gravitas
to avoid the insipid or the crass.
The recording is made in the refined yet ample acoustic
of the DOM Cathedral in Riga. The disc contains so-called ‘Sacral Music’
but the tone adopted is not so reverential as to tip over into dullness.
Praulins’ style is somewhere between the fleshy exaltation
of Howells (Glory is the True Light from Hymnus Paradisi),
the dazzlingly virtuosic display of Britten (St Cecilia) and
darkly Baltic tradition partly exemplified by Rachmaninov in his Liturgy
of St John Chrysostum (1910). There is also a touch of the populist
about this music; perhaps something of a Latvian John Rutter.
The Missa Rigensis was written for Easter 2002
in the Cathedral. It is good to listen to and full of imaginative coups
put to emotional musical effect. Try for instance the staccato high-pecked
notes in the Credo (tr.3). With Epigrams and the other
works we move into a world where percussion, keyboard and organ are
variously deployed with a range of massed and solo voices. Once again
Praulins exhibits considerable resource and brilliance in his use of
‘language’. The solo voices are all most effective. Listen, for example,
to the soft-on-the ear singing in Domine (tr.7). The Magnificat
is very much the theatre-pierce: very dynamic, almost operatic.
The disc is presented in a most attractively designed
card case but sadly without words or background notes.
Choir directors looking for new material would do well
to audition this disc as a matter of urgency. It’s my guess that once
they have heard it they will want to share it quickly with their choirs.