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K&K Verlagsanstalt  


Heinavanker - Loomiselaul
Matänan Sind [2:37]
Salve Regina [8:40]
Ave Maria [4:36]
Mu Süda Ärka Üles [3:08]
Credo sine nomine [6:41]
Rahva Önnistegija [2:42]
Sanctis cuiusvis toni [5:40]
Oh Jeesus, sinu vale [4:19]
Agnus Dei cuiusvis toni [3:58]
Kas sureb nij mu koige armsam elu [4:07]
Loomiselaul [6:18]

Veni Creator Spiritus [0:23]
Oh jumal looja püha vaim [3:12]
Mu mano tulge latse [4:14]
Heinavanker: Eve Kopli (soprano); Kadri Hunt (alto); Margo Kölar (tenor); Anto Önnis (tenor); Taniel Kirikal (baritone); Vambola Krigul (bass)
rec. June 2005, Maulbronn Monastery, Germany. DDD
K&K Verlagsanstalt KUK 21 [60:43]



The Baltic states have remarkable choral traditions and are home to many excellent contemporary choirs. In Estonia, for example, out of a population of under one and a half million people, some thirty thousand people sing in approximately one thousand choirs. Tallinn hosts an All-Estonian Song Celebration every five years, in which as many as twenty-four thousand singers take part. Many readers will certainly have heard - and surely admired – recordings by choirs such as the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Estonian National Male Choir. Here is a CD by another top-class Estonian vocal ensemble, Heinavanker. Heinavanker was established in 1988. Since then the group – all of whose singers are quite young, to judge by the photographs in the CD booklet – have toured and performed in France, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, U.S.A. and elsewhere. They take their name – which means ‘Haywain’ – from the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, generally known as ‘The Haywain’, now in the Prado in Madrid.

This recital was recorded in concert in Maulbronn Monastery, the Cistercian abbey in Germany, which is generally regarded as one of the best-preserved mediaeval abbeys north of the Alps. The recorded sound is good and there are few extraneous noises. Heinavanker sing a programme made up of pieces by Ockeghem and of Estonian sacred folk-songs with the addition of one Estonian pre-Christian runic song and one example of Gregorian chant. Switching backwards and forwards between the refinements of Ockeghem and the simpler - but beautiful - music of the Estonian folk tradition isn’t an unqualified success. In any case, it isn’t really in the performances of Ockeghem that Heinavanker are heard at their very best. Those primarily looking for recordings of Ockeghem will presumably prefer to invest in CDs devoted entirely to his remarkable work, such as the series by The Clerks’ group on ASV. This present CD can largely be recommended for its presentation of materials from the considerable tradition of Estonian sacred folk-song. Unfortunately, the CD booklet tells one disappointingly little about the music – and there are no texts or translations. I have no specialist knowledge of the field; my understanding is that these songs generally set texts from the Lutheran Hymnal and that many of the melodies derive from the same source but have been transformed and decorated in the processes of transmission and unwritten traditions of performance. Even to a largely innocent ear there is much to admire and relish here, but appreciation of the music would surely have been much enhanced by the provision of some details as to its historical provenance - to be fair the geographical origins of some of the songs are given - and some idea of the contents of the texts. The six voices of Heinavanker are assured, full of vitality and blend very attractively. In the atmospheric acoustic of the abbey church at Maulbronn the results have a haunting and moving quality.

The one folk-song of which the booklet provides some real details is that which gives the CD its title – “Loomiselaul”. This is a pre-Christian text, one of the so-called runic songs. Estonia was Christianised only in the thirteenth century and most of the runic songs certainly belong to a period several centuries earlier. Their influence is evident in works by a number of modern Estonian composers, such as the Eesti kalendrilaulund [Estonian Calendar Songs] (1967) by Veljo Tormis. On the present CD Heinavanker perform a song which relates an ancient creation myth: “It is about a bird that makes a nesting place in a paddock, lays eggs and hatches offspring. One of the baby birds becomes the sun, the second the moon, the third a star, and the fourth a rainbow”. With its ‘primitive’ harmonies and its repetitive interplay between the soloist and the ensemble, this is a striking piece – the highlight of a worthwhile disc which might have been better still.

Glyn Pursglove


K&K Verlagsanstalt





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