Baltic Exchange - BBC Music Magazine



No longer the preserve of their own choirs, the choral music of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania now flows in the European mainstream, and has reached the banks of the Cam. The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge enjoys the urgent heartbeat of this music – in all three Baltic countries it resonates with equal fervour from rock, folk and classical sources.

The most substantial contribution to this absorbing new programme comes from the Latvian composer Ugis Praulins. His Missa Rigensis, premiered in Riga in 2003, contains many wonders, including a buoyant Gloria which vanishes magically into the long acoustic perspectives of the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral, where this disc was most sensitively produced and engineered.

Perhaps the most seductive contribution comes from Maija Einfelde's dark, slow-breathing and slow-bending settings of the Latvian poet Fricis Barda.

Here, too, is the ‘astro-music’ of the Estonian Urmas Sisask – true music of the spheres in his 1991 Benedictio – and two slowly pulsating prayers from the Vilnius-based Vytautas Miskinis. His Angelis suis Deus is a gentle 40th birthday present for Stephen Layton, who conducts this music with all the rigour, colour and craft characteristic of his work.

Hilary Finch

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