Music review: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at The Usher Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls
Both the Estonian and Russian vocal traditions are musically rich and intensely expressive. one of the strengths of the remarkable Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, is that every singer is treated as a soloist in their own right and conductor Daniel Reuss blends all these individual characteristics together to produce a gloriously vibrant and distinctive sound.
the similarities between Arvo Part’s Two Slavonic Psalms,the Psalms of Davidby his fellow Estonian the hugely influential Cyrillus Kreek, and Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns –works by three very different composers – reveal just how deep this tradition runs.
Rachmaninov also looks to the past, drawing on chants and using old Church Slavonic texts, for his astonishing 15 movement All-Night Vigil (Vespers) that takes in the liturgical offices of Matins, Lauds and Prime.
The choir deftly captured the variety of emotions in these varied, and often complex prayers and psalms. Often Rachmaninov uses no barlines, leaving the singers free to go with the natural flow of the music and rhythms.
The voices here are fabulous, particularly the deep growling basses that descend to a low B-flat in the fifth movement, the composer’s favourite and the one he earmarked for his own funeral.
Originally published in The Scotsman