Estonian Girls sing Estonian Music
Jerusalem Music Center
Making the acquaintance of the Estonian Girls Choir, conducted by Aarne Saluveer at the Jerusalem Music Center Mishkenot Sha'ananim, meant also getting acquainted with Estonian music, both contemporary and folk.
It was a double blessing. Estonian contemporary composers, only little known on our shores, are different in many ways from the European musical mainstream. Particularly noteworthy was Veljo Tormis, highly imaginative and original, who attracts attention for his skillful use of non-verbal vocalizers and onomatopoetics with melodic texts. Artistically calculated gradual nuances of dynamics, as well as surprising contrasts, are also a part of his rich compositional palette. His portrayal of natural phenomena, such as "Winter Storm" and "Northern Lights," without simplistic imitations of natural sounds, is extremely suggestive.
Composer Arno Part's works included a solemn, profoundly felt performance of Psalm 122, "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem," sung in a charming Estonian-accented English.
The choir is an admirable model of voice culture at the highest level - clear, bright, relaxed and unstrained voices that sing with almost inaudible softness, yet also with forceful and incisive expression when required. They achieved crystalline transparency even in the most intricate textures. There was contagious joy in the singing, but also intense emotional expression in the serious pieces. A discreet gracious choreography of the folksongs concluded the delightful evening.