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Veljo TORMIS (b.1930)
Vision of Estonia II:-
The Ballad of Mary's Land (1969) [5:13]
Reflections with Hando Runnel (1981) [5:41]
Days of Outlawry (1971) [6:03]
God Protect Us from War (1984) [5:50]
Journey of the War Messenger (1984) [5:33]
Let the Sun Shine! (1984) [1:50]
Voices from Tammsaare's Herdboy Days (1977) [9:41]
Forget-Me-Not (1993) [4:25]
Men's Songs I and II (1964, 1965) [10:38 + 12:31]
Estonian National Male Choir/Ants Soots
rec. Estonia Concert Hall, 16-19 May, 23 Oct 2002. DDD
ALBA NCD 20 [67:48]


This collection takes us into some unaccustomed regions of Tormis's musical realm.

The Ballad of Mary's Land is a piece of some ferocity and barely contained fury. The scene is also lit by Penderecki and Ligeti-like slides. Reflections is smoother but with some exciting accelerations along the way. Days of Outlawry is in three parts with Kadri Hunt as the mezzo soloist and Vambola Krigul, percussion and the two trumpets of Indrek Vau and Roman Petukhov. Sturdy marching figures appear in the background with the childlike protests of the mezzo in the foreground. Tormis illuminates a desolation of the soul as well as the search for a consolatory grail. Revolutionary songs are also very prominent in this piece.

God protect us from war is predominantly very quiet - an awed whisper much repeated and punctuated with the sound of the gong. Journey of the War Messenger and the optimistic Let the sun shine are whipcrack fast, pecking and Orff-like. Voices from Tammsaare's Herdboy Days uses distant and close effects as well as cowbells. This is muscular rhythmic fiercely confident singing.

The singing of this male voice choir attains the highest standards. Sibilants, consonantal gutturals and accentuated vowels are shaped with precision, coordination and a relish for meaning. Speaking of which, both the sung Estonian and the English translation are printed in the booklet side by side.

Rob Barnett

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