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Sumera's contemporary composition techniques avoid pure incorporation of existing methods; he prefers blending or contrasting them. His foray into minimalist works [1981-1986] derived from archaic Estonian 'runo' song and was quite distinct from more static forms of American minimalism. Sumera's works, with their clear and consistent dramatic/psychological lines, might best be defined as programmatic 'stories'. Yet he never spoke of narrative motives as such: 'I may have had a "story" in mind or I may not, but each listener must be allowed the chance to create his or her own story, quite different from mine. The motivic development is always more important for me'.

In his two-movement Sixth Symphony [2000] the 12-tone set of his In memoriam [1972] serves as basis for musical material, though with no consideration of dodecaphony as a system. It is the most fascinating, enigmatic, and tragic meditative music Lepo Sumera ever wrote. The Symphony was premièred by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under Arvo Volmer in jubilee concerts on 5 and 6 May. On 2 June Sumera died from sudden heart failure. The Sixth Symphony remained his last work.

Each of the four works [BIS-CD-1560] was written with conductor Tönu Kaljuste in mind and his performances with these forces are undoubtedly authoritative -- even better, BIS has produced a recording to match their finest.

We find here that while Sumera never courted popular, high-profile recognition his canon of work is entirely approachable, truly rewarding, and refreshing in its uncommon singularity [listen -- track 8, 3:02-4:23].

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


Lepo Sumera: Mushroom Cantata and other choral works

BIS-CD-1564 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 68'32" 2005 BIS Records AB

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Janika Lentsius, flute; Kadri-Ann Sumera, piano; Madis Metsamart, percussion; Pille Lukin, Külli Teetamm, Ülle Kaljuste, Andero Ermel, Jan Uuspõld, Guido Kangur, Raivo E Tamm, actors

Lepo Sumera (1950-2000): Concerto per voci e strumenti (1997) for mixed chorus and string orchestra; Kui Tume Veel Kauaks Ka Sinu Maa (Though your Homeland May Be in Dark For Long, 1985) for mixed chorus a cappella; Seenekantaat (Mushroom Cantata, 1979-1983) for mixed chorus, flute, piano and percussion; Saare Piiga Laul Merest (Island Maiden's Song from the Sea, 1988) for mixed chorus, actors, flute, piano and bass drum







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