Music from Estonia Andres UIBO (b.1956) Antiphons (2005) [10:43] Veljo TORMIS (b.1930) At the Crossroads (1991) [9:27] Tower Bell in my Village (1978) [14:29] Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)
From Canon of Repentance (1996) Kontakion [3:32] Ode VI [10:12] Prayer after the Canon [14:15]
rec. Keila Newand, Apostolic Church, Estonia, March 2007 TROUBADISC TROCD01432 [62:42]
Orthodox Singers here present a selection of a capella
music written by three contemporary Estonian composers
of whom Pärt is obviously the best known internationally.
Founded in 1989 by its conductor Valery Petrov this is
a versatile group, attuned to widely differing stylistic
calls from a large range of composers. Its primary focus
however has always been early Orthodox chant and it’s natural
that it has recently chosen to include contemporary Orthodox
works as well. The usual suspects can be cited; Pärt, Tavener
but also Valery Kalistratov. The ensemble consists of three
sopranos, three altos, two tenors and three basses.
Uibo’s Antiphones was written in 2005 for these
forces. Uibo is an organist as well as a composer, and
works in Tallinn, where he graduated in 1981. This is a
work that has absorbed Old Church chant into its bloodstream
and conjures up a subtle use of vocal groupings, pedal
notes and opportunities for solo voices to penetrate the
texture of the writing.
Pärt is the best known of the trio Veljo Tormis is the
senior composer and At the Crossroads (1991) demonstrates
yet again how masterful are his choral works. This is an
excerpt from the epic poem The Three Journeys of Ilja
Muromet. It exploits the powerful and sonorous basses
of the Singers in a work that is, very much as was the
Uibo, deeply saturated in antique sonorities. But striving
and full-blooded it offers a powerful contrast with Uibo’s
more quiescent work – here drama and flailing energy are
the watchwords. Tower Bell in my Village is a much
earlier Tormis work, completed in 1978. It uses old rural
wedding songs and threnodies as well as bells and a reciter.
Written at a time when Estonia was in thrall to the Soviet
Union, and when that monolith was still engaged on a policy
of cultural repression, Tower Bell in my Village evokes
the values of cultural difference through the words of
the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa – the reciter speaks
the words in English by the way. It’s an important piece
that builds incrementally to affirmative colour and choral
shouts – exceptionally well performed all round.
contribution revolves around his 1996 work Canon of Repentance,
from which we hear three movements. This uses an ancient
Russian prayer book and its musical embodiment conforms
to the sense of visionary simplicity that the composer
so richly evokes. Given the stark text of Ode VI one finds
that the music is consolatory in the extreme with a beautiful
purity in the words of the Theotokion - “O Virgin Mother
of God, protect me from evil visible and invisible.” The
Prayer after the Canon is also eloquently expressive in
Pärt’s finest and most artless way.
are full texts and a pretty decent booklet. The performances
are in every way worthy of the music.
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