Duo Ilze and Aigars Reinis’ perform on Riga Cathedral organ

The Latvian national record label Skani has already released a number of classical music CDs that have highlighted many talented Latvian performers and composers, and, being a state funded label, have the artistic freedom to present a broad range of artists. Alongside albums by well-known artists like Egils Siliņš and the Latvian Radio Choir, the label can also present recordings by artists that are, comparatively less well-known, but no less talented or significant.

A noteworthy recent release from Skani is Rīgas Doms. Ērģeles diviem (or Organ Duo at Riga Cathedral) which features the organ duo of Ilze Reine and Aigars Reinis performing the organ of the Riga Cathedral. Dating from 1883/84, the organ is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most significant organs in Europe, and has inspired listeners and performers for many generations.

Organ performance, which involves not just hands but feet as well, is challenging, and two playing the same organ is certainly complex, but Reine and Reinis, who have been performing together since 2009, offer a resonant and diverse collection of performances of works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries by both Latvian and European composers.

British composer John Rutter, though perhaps best known for his choral works, composed ‘Variations on an Easter Theme’ which premiered in 1983. The work, which is based on the 15th century song ‘O filii et Filiae’, presents seven variations of the theme, incorporating modern elements and interpretations. The Renaissance era song is presented in various aspects, and each variation is distinct, and uses the full spectrum of organ sounds. Throughout the varied performances, Reine and Reinis accent both the individuality of each variation, as well as the core theme, blending the ancient and the modern in a distinctive performance.

‘Bērnības ainava’ (Landscape of Childhood), is a work by Latvian composer Imants Zemzaris, and, as its title would indicate, is a slightly sentimental, quiet work. Though melodic and peaceful, there are still undertones of sadness. Near the end there is an almost imperceptible fragment from the melody of the children’s game ‘Kas dārzā’. Though the work is brief (less than five minutes in length), it still captures much of the essence of childhood.

‘Fugue and Fantasy’ by Latvian composer Ilona Breģe was written specifically for the organ duo of Ilze Reine and Aigars Reinis, and to be played on the Riga Cathedral organ, as a showcase for the broad sonic possibilities of the instrument. From thundering basses to quiet, bell-like sounds, the composition covers a range of emotions and feelings, and Reine and Reinis adeptly bring forth all the nuances of this multi-faceted work.

The best known work on this collection is Czech composer Bedřich Smetana’s symphonic poem Vitava (also known by its German name – ‘The Moldau’). Though originally a work for symphonic orchestra, Smetana also created a version for two pianos, and this is the basis for this arrangement. This performance retains the mystical dreamy quality of the original work, and even presents new aspects. In fact, the sounds of the keys being played may even remind the listener of a river lapping against its banks. The performance also shows how one organ can still retain many of the different qualities and timbres of a symphony orchestra. The majestic performance of Reine and Reinis not only shows the skill of the organists themselves, but the vast possibilities of the Riga Cathedral organ.

The CD booklet has extensive notes in Latvian and English on the performers, composers, works, and even the Riga Cathedral Organ (mentioning, among other things, that the organ has 124 registers, 4 manuals, and 6718 pipes).

Rīgas Doms. Ērģeles diviem, besides being a compelling collection of organ works, also serves as yet another example of why the Riga Cathedral organ is one of the most famous organs in the world. The accomplished organ duo of Ilze Reine and Aigars Reinis display the broad range of sounds and timbres of the organ on this varied collection, another excellent release from the Skani record label.

For further information, please visit the Skani website.

Rīgas Doms. Ērģeles diviem.

Ilze Reine un Aigars Reinis
Skani, LMIC/SKANI 047, 2016

Track listing:

  1. John Rutter – Variations on an Easter Theme
    Gustav Merkel – Sonata op. 30 d-moll
  2. Allegro moderato
  3. Adagio
  4. Allegro con fuoco
  5. Imants Zemzaris – Bērnības ainava
  6. Ilona Breģe – Fugue and Fantasy C-dur
  7. Bedřich Smetana – Symphonic Poem Vitava
  8. Aivars Kalējs – Toccata C-dur

 

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area who lives in Rīga, Latvia. When not working in the information technology field, he sings in the Latvian Academy of Culture mixed choir Sõla, does occasional translation work, and has been known to sing and play guitar at the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs in Old Rīga. Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

Melburnā aizsāks Latvijas simtgades karoga ceļu apkārt pasaulei

Gada nogalē aizsāksies viena no pirmajām simtgades norisēm – Latvijas karoga ceļš apkārt pasaulei, kam vakar ceļa vārdus deva Latvijas prezidents Raimonds Vējonis. Kultūras ministre Dace Melbārde ir saņēmusi Pasaules Brīvo latviešu apvienības (PBLA) uzaicinājumu gada nogalē piedalīties Pasaules latviešu ekonomikas un inovāciju forumā, kā arī 56. Austrālijas latviešu kultūras dienās. Kultūras dienās ministre uzņēmusies veikt goda patroneses pienākumus, atklājot vērienīgo pasākumu, kura laikā tautiešiem tiks nodots arī Latvijas simtgades karogs. Tāpat viņa uzstāsies ar referātu un ar svinīgām runām vairākos kultūras dienu pasākumos.

Iniciatīva Latvijas karoga ceļš apkārt pasaulei ir 2×2 nometnes dalībnieku iecere, ko īsteno LV100 Jauniešu rīcības komiteja. Projekta mērķis ir nacionālā simbola godināšana, tā vairojot latviešu kopienās ārvalstīs patriotismu un lepnumu par Latviju. Tas būs ne tikai dāvinājums Latvijas simtgadei, bet arī mantojums, ko nodot nākamajām paaudzēm. Karogs kopā ar vēstījumu grāmatu, pabijis visos kontinentos, 2018. gadā atgriezīsies Latvijā.

Šobrīd Austrālijā mīt viena no pasaulē lielākajām latviešu kopienām, tādēļ ministre darba vizītes laikā plāno vairākas tikšanās un diskusijas ar tautiešiem par Latvijas valsts simtgades svinībām. Savukārt kultūras dienās šogad plānota plaša programma, kurā iesaistīsies kupls kolektīvu skaits, tostarp no Latvijas arī deju kopa „Līgo”, kur tās vadītājs Jānis Purviņš sniegs arī meistarklases. Ministres darba vizītes dienas kārtībā paredzētas vairākas uzrunas, tostarp Kultūras dienu un Lietišķās mākslas izstādes atklāšanās, kā arī kopkora koncertā.

„Lai arī ir pagājuši turpat kā 70 gadi kopš mūsu vecvecāki un viņu ģimenes bija spiesti atstāt Latviju, mīlestība un piederības sajūta pret senču zemi nav mazinājusies. Tieši pretēji, jo īpaši tagad, kad dzīvojam globalizētā pasaulē, aizvien biežāk dzird vārdus – piederība un identitāte. Mēs patiesi lepojamies ar to, ka piederam tik senai tautai ar tik bagātīgu kulturālo mantojumu! Latvietības saglabāšana un nodošana nākamajām paaudzēm nebeidzas tikai ar vietējo latviešu sabiedrības sarīkojumu apmeklēšanu, iešanu sestdienas skolā, dziedāšanu latviešu korī, dejojot tautas dejas un pavadot vasaru latviešu bērnu nometnē. Mums ir nepieciešama dzīvā saite ar Latviju, tikšanās un iepazīšanās ar latviešiem no Latvijas! Lai arī Austrālija atrodas tik tālu, arī mēs esam daļa no latviešu tautas! Jūtamies bezgala pateicīgi, ka varam būt daļa no Latvijas simtgades aktivitātēm un būsim pirmā vieta, kur plīvos Latvijas simtgades karogs,” tautiešu vārdā stāsta Lara Brennere, Austrālijas latviešu 56. Kultūras dienu priekšsēde.

Kultūras ministre šogad aicināta pārstāvēt Latvijas valdību un uzstāties ar atklāšanas runu arī Pasaules latviešu ekonomikas un inovāciju forumā “Ar skatu uz Āzijas un Klusā okeāna reģionu”. Viņa īpaši vēlas uzsvērt radošuma un izcilības lomu valsts izaugsmē, kvalitatīvas dzīves vides radīšanā, akcentējot bagāto Latvijas kultūras mantojuma un radošuma potenciālu jaunu radošo uzņēmumu veidošanā.

Austrālijā izstrādāta ļoti veiksmīga kultūrpolitika, definējot kultūru kā vienu no tautsaimniecības nozarēm un ekonomikas attīstības pīlāriem. Līdz ar to sagaidāms, ka forums būs noderīga platforma jaunām idejām kultūras un radošo industriju uzņēmumu jomā, stiprinot un attīstot ekonomiskos sakarus un tādējādi sniedzot ieguldījumu Latvijas tautsaimniecības attīstībā. Ar Klusā okeāna un Āzijas reģionā dzīvojošo latviešu mērķtiecīgu iesaisti ekonomisko sakaru attīstībā plānots ne vien veicināt Latvijas biznesa iespējas šajā reģionā, bet arī aicināt tautiešus atbalstīt Latvijas uzņēmējdarbību un eksportu.

Saskaņā ar pēdējiem tautas skaitīšanas datiem Austrālijā dzīvo aptuveni 20 000 cilvēku, kas uzrāda latvisku piederību. Teju simts dziedātāji un dejotāji no Austrālijas piedalījās XXV Vispārējos latviešu Dziesmu un XV Deju svētkos Rīgā. Šobrīd tautieši ir uzsākuši aktīvu gatavošanos Latvijas valsts simtgades svinībām, plānojot dažādas aktivitātes, tai skaitā XXVI Vispārējos latviešu Dziesmu un XVI Deju svētkos 2018. gadā Austrāliju plāno pārstāvēt jau 103 koristi un 57 dejotāji.

Gunta Bormane ir Kultūras ministres padomniece sabiedrisko attiecību jautājumos

Wealth of Folklore Material from 1950s on New Saucējas CD

From July 8 to August 6, 1958, a team from the Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences traveled to the Ludza and Kārsava districts in the Latgale region in eastern Latvia to gather folklore materials and record the songs and singing styles of these areas. Led by Alma Ancelāne (who worked in the Folklore Department at the Language and Literature Institute), and joined by other employees and students, the team, which also included future composer Pauls Dambis, gathered information so as to preserve these songs, most of which were passed around in an oral tradition, and the team compiled an extensive record from their expedition.

Recognizing the wealth that was gathered in this one expedition, the traditional folk singing group Saucējas, based at the Latvian Academy of Culture, decided to record an album of just the songs collected during that month in 1958. Entitled Trīci, munu ustabeni!, the CD contains performances of 29 songs from the Ludza and Kārsava districts (which is actually just a small percentage of the total folklore material gathered). Saucējas, directed by Iveta Tāle, also includes singers Marianna Auliciema, Kristīne Jansone, Indra Mētra, Janta Meža, Signe Pujāte, Kristīne Rotbaha, and Vineta Romāne. Most of the songs on the album are sung unaccompanied, but some have musical accompaniment.

One of the many aspects that makes the gathered musical material significant is the presence of multi-voiced singing (rather than just everyone singing the same melody in unison). For example, the multi-layered harmonies of “Kiukoj, uoru dzagiuzeite”, originally performed by the Kārsava ethnographic ensemble, a song about a girl that begins to cry when she hears the cuckoo singing, as she misses her brothers.

Saucējas have endeavored to make sure the performances are as authentic as possible – to make it sound like these are indeed songs as they were heard in the Latvian countryside – in other words, perhaps not entirely perfect and polished, but full of vitality and life. In songs like “Iz pīguli, iz pīguli”, “Malni muni kumieleni”, and “Tolka lela, tolka moza”, the group intentionally go for a loud sound, like women singing in a field while working.

The songs on the album cover many themes, reminding listeners that Latvians have folk songs for just about any occasion. Besides themes of work and relationships, there are songs about war and seasonal festivities. The collection is bookended by two lullabies – “Sešas peles mīgu vylka” and “Atnes, peleit, mīdzeni”, giving the song collection an almost circular sense – that the day begins and ends with sleep, and perhaps to suggest the importance of singing to children, so that the songs and traditions continue to be passed down throughout the generations.

Recording folk songs, particularly those sung by large groups with multiple voices and harmonies, is always a challenging task, and one additional aspect that makes this a successful release is that the group enlisted veteran folk music producer Gatis Gaujenieks (who has produced records for groups like Iļģi and Laiksne), and there is a crisp clarity in the immersive vocal performances.

As with many other releases from the Lauska record label, the packaging is again exceptional. The CD comes with a book of almost one hundred pages, detailing the songs and the research expedition. It provides many fascinating details about the time – one might wonder how it was possible in the late 1950s, deep within the time of the Soviet occupation of Latvia, that a team could research Latvian folklore (particularly considering the Soviet policy of the Russification of Latvia). As it was during the ‘Khrushchev Thaw’, certain restrictions were relaxed, but lest anyone forget that they were in the Soviet Union, as part of the expedition, researchers also had to ask participants if they were, for example, members of the Communist Party. Information is provided in both English and Latvian, and there are also many pictures from that era.

One of the more unique Latvian cultural events of the 1950s has led to one of the most unique Latvian folk music albums.  Providing a fascinating picture of how Latvian culture was still alive, to a certain degree, while part of the Soviet Union, but, at the same time, presenting a broad view of Latvian folk singing and a variety of themes, Trīci, munu ustabeni! is a faithful and authentic re-creation of a visit to small villages in eastern Latvia. Saucējas present the full spectrum of singing on the album – from intimate individual performances to loud ensemble performances, and the group has created not just an important historical document, but also a joyous and resplendent folk music album.

For further information, please visit the Saucējas Facebook page.

Also, all of the original audio material from the 1958 folklore expedition can be found here.

saucejas-trici-munu-ustabeni-001

Trīci, munu ustabeni!

Trejdeviņi koklētāji
Saucējas, Lauska, CD053, 2016

Track listing:

  1. Sešas peles mīgu vylka
  2. Iz pīguli, iz pīguli
  3. Malni muni kumieleni
  4. Kiukoj, uoru dzagiuzeite
  5. Kiukoj dzagiuze i dzīd laksteigola
  6. Tolka lela, tolka moza
  7. Lineni, muni lineni
  8. Es beju māmeņai vīna pati meiteņa
  9. Zīdi, zīdi, rudzu vuorpa
  10. Oi, gaļdeni, oi, gaļdeni
  11. Dāmpoļka
  12. Pluovuoja laiveņa pa dziļom jiurom
  13. Zeile dzīd(i), zeile dzīd(i)
  14. Aijā, munu vīglu pruotu
  15. Prūjom juoīt, prūjom juoīt
  16. Muoseņ(i) mīluo, kū tu te dori?
  17. Sastdiņ labi cīmā īti
  18. Pa kam var pazeit avīšu kryumu?
  19. Kū tys muns kakleņš
  20. Trīci, munu ustabeni
  21. Nadūd, Dīvs, veitulam(i)
  22. Tev zeileite zini nese
  23. Eima, eima mes, muosenis
  24. Padzīdim(i) mes, muosenis
  25. Doncojit(i), gūļojit(i)
  26. Zīmys svātki sabraukuši
  27. Kreicpoļka
  28. Kas duorzā(i), kas duorzā(i)
  29. Atnes, peleit, mīdzeni

 

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area who lives in Rīga, Latvia. When not working in the information technology field, he sings in the Latvian Academy of Culture mixed choir Sõla, does occasional translation work, and has been known to sing and play guitar at the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs in Old Rīga. Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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