In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC) has become the best-known Estonian classical music performer and one of the best choirs in the world. In 2001-2007 the choir's chief conductor and artistic director was Paul Hillier. The renown British musician has widened the choir's perspectives and continued their success both in the recording field and as a performing group at prominent concert venues and festivals. Since September 2008 the chief conductor and artistic director is Daniel Reuss.
EPCC was founded in 1981 by Tonu Kaljuste, who acted as artistic director and chief conductor for 20 years. It was first formed as an amateur chamber choir Ellerhein, founded by Tonu Kaljuste's father Heino Kaljuste (1925-1989) on the 15th anniversary of the children's choir Ellerhein in 1966. In 1971 Tonu Kaljuste became the conductor of the chamber choir Ellerhein, on the basis of which he formed the full-time professional EPCC.
At the 1991 Takarazuka Chamber Choir Competition in Japan the choir won three gold medals and was awarded the Grand Prix. Since then the choir has not been envolved in any competition, the main activities having been concerts at home and abroad, and recordings under different recording and broadcasting companies.
EPCC gives 60-70 concerts per season and tours regularly in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan. Their repertoire ranges from Gregorian chants to late baroque and 20th century music. Works by Bach and contemporary composers, as well as Estonian choral music have a great importance in choir's programs. Music by Arvo Part and Veljo Tormis has shared a very special place in the EPCC's repertoire for many years.
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has worked with various conductors and orchestras, such as Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Sir David Willcocks, Dale Warland, Eric Ericson, Anders Ohrwall, Martin Haselbock, Ivan Fisher, Ward Swingle, Joseph Jennings, Neeme Jarvi, Paavo Jarvi, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Boer, Toomas Vavilov, Anu Tali and others; Australian Chamber Orchestra, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Rundfunk Orchester, Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Palatino, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and others. Partnership with Tallinn Chamber Orchestra has been long and fruitful. These two groups have made several tours together, both in Europe and in the US, focusing mainly on works by Arvo Part, and recorded several CD-s.
The choir has made numerous recordings for different broadcasting and recording companies. All these have received very high recognition from leading music critics and musical magazines from all over the world. The recordings for the recording company ECM (ECM NEW Series) include Forgotten Peoples and Litany to Thunder (the best choral CD in 2000 by the Diapason magazine in France) by Veljo Tormis, Kanon Pokajanen, Te Deum (with Tallinn Chamber Orchestra) and Litany (with The Hilliard Ensemble) by Arvo Part and Crystallisatio by Erkki-Sven Tuur. For Virgin Classics the choir has recorded Casting a Spell by Veljo Tormis and Beatus by Arvo Part. For Carus the EPCC and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra recorded 2 CD-s of Mozart in 2000 (Litaniae and Vesperae et Litania), and 2 CD-s of Vivaldi.
In the summer of 2002 the EPCC and Paul Hillier started cooperation with Harmonia Mundi USA. For the three-years project Baltic Voices, which's main idea is to explore the breadth and depth of choral music from the countries around the Baltic Sea, the choir has recorded 3 CDs: Baltic Voices 1 was released in 2002, Baltic Voices 2 in 2003 and Baltic Voices 3 in 2005. Other projects with Harmonia Mundi have been Powers of Heaven in 2003 (Russian Orthodox Church music from the 18th century), Rachmaninov - All-Night Vigil in 2005, Da Pacem (works by Arvo Part) and A New Joy (Russian Orthodox Christmas music), both in 2006.
Displaying 1-12 of 12 items.
A New Joy
Review: Drawing upon the rich treasury of 19th and 20th century liturgical hymns and carols of the nativity feast, this unique collection of Orthodox music from Russia and the Urkraine includes several first recordings of music by composers who were suppressed by the Soviet government. At the end of the 19th-century, Alexander Kastalsky founded the world-famous Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing. Bolshevik persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church forced the closing of the school and the disbanding of the choir. Georgiy Izvekov, a priest and well-respected composer of liturgical music, was arrested in 1931 for 'anti-Soviet activities' and was executed by firing squad. Important choral composers in the Ukraine met with similar fates - for example, Vasyl Barvinskyi was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by the Soviet government. Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in this gloriously atmospheric collection of Christmas music, which begins with the tolling of the bells of St Alexander's cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia.
Songlist: Our Father, Rejoice, O Virgin, Verses Before The Six Psalms No.2, Shepards Of Bethlehem, Oh, What A Wonder , Today The Virgin Gives Birth , Verses Before The Six Psalms No. 1, The Angels Exclaimed, A New Joy, Bells Rang Early In Jerusalem, When Augustus Ruled Alone Upon The Earth , A Song Of Good Cheer, Throughout The World, The Legend, Christ Is Born, God Is With US , Blessed is The Man
Review: Born in 1935 in Paide, Estonia Arvo Part has become one of the leading choral composers of our time. Choirs around the world have performed his work and this recording is one of the finest interpretations of his works by this world-class choir. All these compositions are typical in that appear disarmingly simple on paper, they reveal a genuine and dignified spiritual depth.
Songlist: Statuit Ei Dominus , Missa Syllabica: I. Kyrie , Missa Syllabica: II. Gloria , Missa Syllabica: III. Credo, Missa Syllabica: IV. Sanctus , Missa Syllabica: V. Agnus Dei , Missa Syllabica: VI. Ite, Missa Est, Beatus Petronius, Magnificat-Antiphonen: I. O Wesheit , O Adonai , O Spross Aus Isais Wurzel , O Schlussel Davids , O Morgenstern , O Konig Aller Volker, O Immanuel, De Profundis , Memento, Cantate Domino , Solfeggio
Review: This collection of shorter sacred works by Arvo Part is the third harmonia mundi recording devoted to the music of the great contemporary Estonian composer. Da pacem includes some of his newest compositions as well as a sampling of works from earlier in his career. Led by Part's longtime collaborator and biographer Paul Hillier, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, along with organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, illuminate the very essence of Part's 'holy minimalism,' with its roots in early-Medieval polyphony and deep engagement with text. A survey of the work of three decades, Da pacem illustrates the development of Part's triadic, bell-like 'tintinabulation' style as the composer explores new colors and texture. The disc features the lovely Magnificat (1989), with its call and response form and the Salve Regina (2001/2002), with its unexpected underlying waltz rhythm. Also included are Part's Dopo la vittoria (1996/1998), a 'piccola cantata' commissioned to celebrate the 1,600th anniversary of the death of Saint Ambrose and the title track, Da pacem Domine (2004) - a prayer for peace rendered with an astonishing stillness, in which, says Hillier, 'each pitch is carefully placed in position like stones in a Zen garden.' Of special note is the world premiere recording of Part's Two Slavonic Psalms (1997) - the first a-cappella work the composer wrote using the 'tintinnabuli' style.
Songlist: Da Pacem Domine, Salve Regina, Zwei Salwische Psalmen, Psalm 117, Psalm 131, Magnificat, An Den Wassern Zu Babel, Dopo La Vittoria, Nunc Dimittis, Little Tractus
Review: Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in Volume 1 of Baltic Voices - a three-year project to explore the choral riches of the Baltic Sea countries. With a special attention to the choir's native Estonia, these recordings will highlight the mainstream tradition of the past hundred years, complemented with music of earlier periods and commissions from younger composers. Volume 1 features secular and sacred works by 20th-century composers from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia.
Songlist: Psalms of David (Cyrillus Kreek), Hear My PRayer, O Lord (Sven-David Sandstrom), Lorca Suite (Einojuhani Rautavaara), Latvian Bourdon Songs (Veljo Tormis), Es ist genug (Sven-David Sandstrom), ...which was the song of... (Arvo Part), Dona nobis pacem (Peteris Vasks)
Review: Acclaimed conductor Paul Hillier and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conclude their exploration of the choral riches of the Baltic region with a third and final volume of the Baltic Voices series. The disc features music of established figures in the genre (Bergman, Gorecki, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen) and recent works by the younger generation (Saariaho, Tuur). Baltic Voices 3 includes CD premieres of works by Saariaho, Gorecki and Tuur. Hillier proves time and again that there's a huge quantity of highly effective new choral music out there that's not only entertaining and beautiful but also distinctive and not anachronistic. Highly recommended.
Songlist: The Stomping Bride, Statements, Nuits, adieux, The Dazzled Eye lost its Speech, Vier Galgenlieder Op. 51b, Alleluia, Meditatio, 5 Kurpian Songs
Review: For their second recording together, Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in a selection of deeply moving sacred choral masterworks from the Slavic tradition of 'Divine worship.' Dmitry Bortniansky's sublime setting of The Cherubic Hymn represents one of the supreme summits of Orthodox liturgy.
Songlist: Let My Prayer Arise (Dmitry Bortiansky), Now the Powers of Heaven (Giuseppe Sarti), The Cherubic Hymn (Bortiansky), O Most Holy Maiden Mary (anon), Glory / Only Begotten Son (from "Service in a Minor key") (Vasily Titov), In the Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep (Baldassare Galuppi), I Lift Up My Eyes to the Mountains (Bortiansky), Praise the Name of the Lord (Nikolai Diletsky), With My Voice I Cried Out to the Lord (Bortiansky), By the Rivers of Babylon (Artemy Vedel), Lord, Make Me to know My End (Bortiansky)
Review: Paul Engel's Venetian Deja-vu is a virtuoso piece, which in a rather free manner is based both on the motet Jubilate Deo omnis terra and the well-known Sonata No. XIII for eight instrumental voices in two choirs by Giovanni Gabrieli. Even though this roughly 15 minute long composition cannot be regarded as sacred music, it was still composed for performance as part of a concert of church music. Engel's Te Deum is a piece in four movements of approximately 25 minutes in length which forms a musical arch beginning with the music for several voices of the occident and stretches to a modern, generally harmonic tonal language. Cyrillus Kreek worked like Bartok for many years as a musical researcher. He collected spiritual folksongs, which he catalogued and revised. He wrote 450 songs for choir with various voices and arranged 500 hymns in polyphony. In 1927, he completed his 'Estonian Requiem' which is regarded as his masterpiece. Kreek's settings of David's Psalms form a kind of bridge between the comprehensive form of the requiem and the spiritual folksongs. They distinguish themselves through their emotional balance which is never monotonous. The Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt's 'Immortal Bach' is based on the Bach chorale, Komm, susser Tod. Nystedt interprets this chorale in a manner typical for his style by attempting to unite the old with the new.
Songlist: Te Deum, Venetian Deja vu , Psalms of David , Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major , Orgelbuchlein: Wenn wir in hochsten Noten sein, Immortal Bach
Review: Veljo Tormis's timeless compositions draw inspiration from Estonia's ancient history, and these evocations of the past, influenced by folk musics of the Baltic region, are often mesmerizing in sheer physical power. There is nothing else in contemporary choral music that can be compared with 'Curse Upon Iron', where the fierce declamations of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir are underpinned by the pounding pulse of a shaman's drum. At such moments, Tormis's music seems possessed, and even the quieter episodes - such as the runo-songs performed by two young sopranos - have an hypnotic insistency.
Songlist: How Can I recognize My Home, Singing Aboard Ship, Curse Upon Iron, The Singer's Childhood, Songs Of The Ancient Sea, The Bishop And The Pagan, Litany To Thunder, The Lost Geese
Review: Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in a program tracing the Balto-Finnic folksong tradition through the works of Jean Sibelius, Cyrillus Kreek, Erik Bergman and Veljo Tormis. Hillier's previous forays into this repertoire (his three-volume Baltic Voices series) have been met with the highest critical acclaim. Hillier was also recently awarded a GRAMMY for his recording of David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion.
Songlist: Laulusild, Rakastava (The Lover), Sirisege, sirbikesed!, Maga, maga Matsikene, Mis sa sirised, sirtsukene?, Pilspa ja pakana, Lapponia, Jannilaulud
Review: The period from 1880 to 1917 marked a renaissance in Russian choral music. Previously, Russian choral music had been dominated by German and Italian influences. Now composers returned to old Russian chants as the source of their works, thus creating a thoroughly Russian choral style. Although Sergei Rachmaninov wrote only few choral works, they are among the finest example of Russian choral music ever written. Of those works, the All-Night Vigil (more commonly referred to as the Vespers) stands as his crowning achievement and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the Orthodox church music as a whole. Composed in 1915, the All-Night Vigil is comprised of texts for services of Vespers, Matins and Prime. In writing the work, Rachmaninov employed a system known as 'choral orchestration,' which requires singers to make use of a wide range of complex vocal techniques. But for all the innovation and technical prowess evident in Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, it is the work's intense emotion and deep spirituality that stays with the listener.
Songlist: Come, let us worship, Praise the Lord, O my soul, Blessed is the man, O gentle light, Lord, now lettest Thou, Rejoice, O Virgin, The Six Psalms, Praise the name of the Lord, Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Having beheld the Ressurection, My soul magnifies the Lord, The Great Doxology, Today salvation is come, Thou didst rise from the tomb, O queen victorious
Review: On this fascinating recording, Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Orlando Consort in the world premiere recording of Scattered Rhymes - a vibrant and powerful new work by Tarik O'Regan (born 1978). O'Regan, a two-time British Composer Award winner, was educated at Oxford University and completed his postgraduate studies at Cambridge, where he was subsequently appointed Composer in Residence at Corpus Christi College. O'Regan now divides his time between Trinity College, Cambridge and New York City, where he has held the Fulbright Chester Schirmer Fellowship in Music Composition at Columbia University and a Radcliff e Institute Fellowship at Harvard. In Scattered Rhymes (2006), the composer combines two fourteenth-century texts that toy with the ambiguities of intertwining sensuous and divine love. To reinforce the work's medieval connections, Scattered Rhymes is designed to be framed or paired with Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame (circa 1364). This seminal work is brilliantly performed here by the Orlando Consort. Completing this inventive program are two motets: Ave Regina Coelorum by Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400-1474) and the haunting Super Flumina by Gavin Bryars (born 1943).
Songlist: Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite missa est, Ave Regina celorum, Super flumina, Douce dame jolie, Virelai: Douce dame jolie
Review: Toivo Tulev is one of the principal figures in Estonian music today. Deeply influenced by his study of Gregorian chant, Tulev's works have a mystic, incantatory dimension. Songs is the title of the largest work on this CD, but it reflects on the other works as well, and not only because they are vocal or choral. During the 1980s, the composer was a member of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. This background has given him an innate sense of what singers can do. The linear interweaving of which Tulev's music is constructed is essentially vocal; even when played on instruments it is song. Dedicated to Paul Hillier, Songs is a polychoral piece with various groups of singers and instruments distributed around the concert venue. The text is a collage created by the composer from various sources: the Bible, the Song of Songs and two poems, Cantico espiritual and Coplas del alma que pena por ver a Dios by St John of the Cross. The small orchestra includes recorder and duduk, an instrument whose longing quality is well suited to the poems. World-renowned countertenor Robin Blaze joins Paul Hillier and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in this world premiere recording.
Songlist: By Night, Where Have You Hidden, Beloved, This Life That I Live, Nigra Sum, Behold, Thou Art Fair, I Am Come Into My Garden, Reveal, Reveal Your Presence, Mira Que La Dolencia De Amour, Der Herr Ist Mein Getreuer Hirt I, Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice, , Leave, Alas, This Tormenting, Jusquez au Printemps, Der Herr Ist Mein Getreuer Hirt II