Tõnu Kõrvits: Kreek’s Notebook

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COMPOSERS: Tõnu Kõrvits
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Tõnu Kõrvits: Kreek’s Notebook
WORKS: Kreek’s Notebook; plus Maskats: Lacrimosa; Lugums Naktij ‘Prayer to the Night’; Plakidis: In memorium; Fatamorgana ‘Mirage’
PERFORMER: The Choir of Royal Holloway; Britten Sinfonia/Rupert Gough


More from the ever-renewing, never emptying storehouse of Baltic song: this time a celebration of the great Estonian folk song and folk hymn collector, Cyrillus Kreek who, in the early 20th century, sought out songs from the regions and islands of his native country.

The composer Tõnu Kõrvits, now in his forties, like Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis before him, has been fascinated by the musical possibilities of this folk material, and has created Kreek’s Notebook, eight highly imaginative settings. Where Tormis can be earthy and Pärt other-worldly, Kõrvits is euphoniously fanciful, threading together elements of Lutheran hymnody with runic song, and vocal ornamentation with chamber-musical textures.

Arturs Maskats, composer and musical director of Latvian National Opera, offers a Latvian tribute and lament for the victims of the 1994 Estonia ferry disaster in his Lacrimosa. A questing single line of female voices gives way to rolling instrumental waves of terror.

With Kõrvits’s haunting and little-known setting of an Emily Brontë poem, and with two pieces by Pe¯teris Plakidis as well, this Baltic compilation is given gently sympathetic performances by the student singers of Royal Holloway College and the Britten Sinfonia under Rupert Gough.


Hilary Finch