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Baltic Exchange - Gramophone

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A fascinating collection of choral works by composers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, centring on a Mass setting by setting by Latvian Uģis Prauliņš (b1957), Gabriel Jackson’s excellent insert-notes observe that Prauliņš’s intention was to compose a work in the spirit of the great Renaissance Masses and the Missa Rigensis certainly opens in the grand manner of such a festal Mass, though the subtle harmonic colourings also already hint at more recent repertoires.  The dazzling and varied Gloria, however, brings in elements from other areas in which the composer has worked, owing, as Jackson points out, as much to rock music as to polyphonic thinking.  That the result is entirely coherent is a tribute to the breadth of Prauliņš’s vision and the technical deftness with which he is able to transmit it. Probably the single most impressive movement in the work is the end of the Credo, whose increasing waves of spoken affirmation of faith are haloed by bell-like choral roulades.

Other composers represented are the Maija Einfelde (b1957), also Latvian, the Estonian Urmas Sisask (b1960) and the Lithuanian Vytautas Miškinis (b1954).  Einfelde’s music is altogether more introverted, darker than that of Prauliņš but beautifully crafted and jewel-like, her Bärdas cycle the perfect work with which to separate Prauliņš’s Mass from the equally exuberant Benedictio by Sisask, and, in similar fashion Prauliņš’s Laudibus in sanctis (written for this recording) separates Angelis suis Deus and Pater noster by Miškinis; these are works of absolutely luminous beauty.

Ivan Moody

Baltic Exchange
Hyperion Records CDA67747