Rosenvald is an Estonian
composer who studied composition with
Vilem Kapp in Tallinn. For more than
thirty years (1961-1989) he played as
a member of the Estonian National Symphony
Orchestra. He declares Sibelius, Shostakovich
and Tubin as his influences.
Shostakovich and Schnittke,
especially the latter, are certainly
to the fore in the scathing scar tissue
of the First Violin Concerto.
The Second Concerto, from ten
years later, is made of more yielding
stuff with a light-suffused first movement.
While the First Concerto might sometimes
be heard as a sort of amalgam of late
Frank Bridge (Third Quartet) and Kurt
Weill (Violin Concerto), the Second
Concerto mixes the edgy angular vitality
of Britten (violin concerto) at the
centre with the flanking humanity of
Rubbra (Improvisation and Violin
Concerto) and Finzi (Introit).
The Two Pastorals
are by no means facile pieces and
certainly are not Finzian ‘ruralia’.
There is a chill in this music and a
subtle injection of dissonance. The
three movement Sonata takes us
from the luxury of full orchestra to
the spareness of Gontšarova's solo violin.
The writing is brusque with energy,
tough and, in the third and final movement,
alive with a virtuosity that is part
peripatetic fiddler and part Bartók.
The Sonata would pair well with the
two Frankel solo sonatas.
The Third Symphony
boils with the sort of apocalyptic
energy found in William Alwyn's Fourth
Symphony but without the grunt and Holstian
weight of that work. A closer parallel
might be Stanley Bate's still unrecorded
Third Symphony although that dates from
1940. Interesting to see that the composer
Jan Rääts was the Estonian
Radio tonmeister for the Symphony. The
Symphony enthrals with vigorous driving
music at 4.20 and mutates into a neo-RVW
pastoralism at 4.56. This is highly
inventive stuff instinct with unease.
Anxiety imbues these pages and even
the lulling of the andante mosso
is overhung and ends with threatening
col legno clattering. The finale
launches with more energy reminiscent
of Mossolov's Iron Foundry but
with counterpoint lines laid out with
greater transparency. The writing at
4.43 onwards has an impressively calming
equilibrium and the quiet chordal punctuation
of the last few pages is outstandingly
is from a year after the Symphony. It
too is restful - a little like the warmly
pastoral moments in Schoeck's Sommernacht
but with an expressionistic overlay
typical of Schrecker or Zemlinsky. This
could easily be as much of a signature
piece for Rosenvald as Schnittke's Spiegel
im spiegel or the middle movement
of the Glass Violin Concerto. A modernistic
includes nine symphonies, several sinfoniettas,
a Classical Symphony for strings
and timps, six string quartets and chamber
works for violin and cello. Let's hear
Antes and Bella Musica
(alongside Eres and Edition 49) are
doing wonders for Estonian music. Long
may this continue. This one is well
worth getting if you enjoy Tubin, Schnittke,
Alwyn, Rubbra or Britten. Recommended
if the allusions reflect your tastes.