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Seenekantaat [Mushroom Cantata] -- is literally dedicated 'to those who love mushrooms'.

An extraordinary work, this idiosyncratic cantata is scored for mixed chorus with flute, piano and percussion accompaniment. Its four sections simply enunciate the Latin names of 51 varieties of mushroom. Sumera's movements are [5] Carmen veris [Spring Song], early mushrooms [listen -- track 5, 2:35-4:01]; (6) Timor [Fear], poisonous varieties; (7) Carmen autumnus [Autumn Song], late kinds and (8) Luxuria -- delicious mushrooms.

Saare piiga laul merest [Island maiden's song from the sea] is the final and by far the longest work [29'31"] in this programme. It began as an idea by New York-based Estonian dancer Marika Blossfeldt. Her wish was to depict female personae within Kalevipoeg (Kalev's Son), Estonia's national epic, penned by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald [1853, published 1862] from sketches [1839] by Friedrich Robert Faehlmann.

The dark, mystical saga, [19,023 alliterative verses] is a symbolic-poetic fantasy of incest, suicide and death and, so far as is known, Kalev's Son originated in the 17th century.

Sumera's idiosyncratic choral mosaic is built out of tonal and frequent chromatic elements ... here and there antiphonal segments occur ... while the seven actors follow detailed instructions regarding timbre, overlapping text, registers, tempo, speech patterns and vocal nuances; the results are hypnotic.

From its initial whisperings against a fluid, melodic chorus this is a mesmerising work -- a sorrowful narrative relieved by three seismic outbursts of uncontrollable laughter [8'58" -- 20'27" -- 24'52"]; elsewhere a siren-like women's choral motif [8'05" -- 19'45" -- 22'54"] reaches us from afar [listen -- track 9, 19:37-21:04].

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


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