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Uncommon Singularity

Choral music by
Lepo Sumera -
reviewed by

'... performances with these forces are undoubtedly authoritative ...'

Lepo Sumera: Mushroom Cantata and other choral works. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Tõnu Kaljuste. © 2005 BIS Records AB

The opening item, Sumera's Concerto per voci e strumenti, is scored for mixed chorus with string orchestra and, true to its title, this fourteen minute work is in standard concerto form with three movements; quick [Furioso] -- slow [Moderato] -- quick [Allegro misterioso]. The text consists of phonetic constructs; words and names from an original comic sound play by Estonian poet, Doris Kareva.

The nightingale's song [kiriküüt. Küll-küll-kiriküüt] heard in his Furioso does not readily translate into English; but Sumera's Allegro misterioso [listen -- track 3, 0:01-0:50] is distilled from the Kareva text which begins thus;

Andromeda, mandragora
rhododendron, mandala
dandy, candy, Cassiopeia
mania, grandiose, rosa mundi
gloria !
laurel, laurel, coriander,
oregano, oleander, Romeo and Juliet,
androgyne and salamander,

Sumera's penchant for wordplay is bolstered throughout this text and his resulting concerto rivets the attention with its aural magnetism.

Kume tume veel kauaks ka sinu maa -- just 3'20" in duration, lends great poignancy and historic verisimilitude to the classic Estonian text (1894) of Juhan Liiv. Commissioned by T Kaljuste in 1985 it refers to a time when Estonia was part of the Baltic province of Russia's tsar. In this compact lyrical poem the a capella mixed chorus is movingly expressive [listen -- track 4, 1:51-2:49] as it sings;

Though your homeland may be in dark for long
And your burden so heavy to carry ................
One day your thoughts, your mind will live
In the heartbeat of your people ......................
It will help your people build a home
Resounding through generations.

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Copyright © 13 September 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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