Laiksne’s new album: Folksongs about young Latvian woman’s life

The women’s Latvian folk group Laiksne has, for more than twenty years, been one of the premiere folk ensembles in Latvia. Exuberant performances, rich arrangements, and joyous songs have been the hallmark of Laiksne’s recordings, and this is evident on their latest album – 2021’s Ko zinu gaidīt. After an eight-year gap since their last album (2013’s Es čigāna meita biju), Ko zinu gaidīt is a long awaited follow-up, and does not disappoint.

Many of Laiksne’s albums have an overall theme, and for Ko zinu gaidīt, the album’s songs chronicle a Latvian woman’s life – from birth to marriage. As on their other albums, the group gathers their materials from folk archives (each song lists who originally sang the song and who wrote down the song, as many of the songs were catalogued during various folklore ‘expeditions’ in Latvia throughout the 20th century).

The gently flowing “Ko jauna būdama”, about a girl who planted flowers and made a wreath of roses, shines with the sound of the stabule (reed pipe), while “Nepūta taures” features the sound of the kokle as well as Laiksne’s rich vocal harmonies.

The cheery “Šovasar es valkāju” is about a girl choosing between two suitors, while the similarly up-tempo “Miegs man nāca” is about working hard even when one is sleepy.

The delicate “Ieva”, about a young girl getting ready to be married, is full of tenderness as the girl tries to cheer her despondent mother. Laiksne’s performance of the song captures the sadness of the mother as well as the empathy of the daughter’s reassurances that she will never be far away. In a similar vein, the wistful “Dzīžu, dzīžu vīna pate” is a song about a girl who must sing all alone, as her sisters are away in Latgale – but they still all plan on meeting at their brother’s house.

“Leigoj pologs”, a somber song about a girl struggling to find an acceptable suitor, is performed a capella, and though there are no instruments, the vocal harmonies bring forth the sadness, even bitterness of the song. The song ends on a caustic note, as the mother asks the daughter what married life is like, and the daughter replies “you should know.”

The album closes with the atmospheric “Es piedzimu pie māmiņas”, a song that features vocalists from multiple generations, among them Ilga Reizniece from post-folk group Iļģi, is about the birth of a girl who then is raised by her mother but is also cared for by the Latvian goddess Laima. The sparse instrumentation brings out the power of the words, as well as accenting the idea that Laima will determine the girl’s destiny.

Though in their third decade of performance, Laiksne are still full of vitality and vigor, and Ko zinu gaidīt, with its songs from throughout a young woman’s life, is imbued with tenderness and warmth, as well as joy and humor.

For further information, please visit the Laiksne Facebook page

Ko zinu gaidīt


Lauska CD094, 2021

Track listing

  1. Ko jauna būdama
  2. Es pazinu to meitiņu
  3. Nepūta taures
  4. Šovasar es valkāju
  5. Ieva
  6. Jaizalaide mān sauleite
  7. Ods
  8. Leigoj pologs
  9. Zīdi, zīdi
  10. Riti, riti
  11. Miegs man nāca
  12. Dzīžu, dzīžu vīna pate
  13. Es piedzimu pie māmiņas

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . 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.

Latvian Radio Choir album reveals beauty of Plakidis’ choral works

Latvian composer Pēteris Plakidis, who passed away in 2017, left behind an impressive body of work – solo songs, chamber music, symphonic music, and choir music, to name just a few of the genres he composed for. Though many of his works were weighty and dramatic, Plakidis is the rare Latvian composer to include occasional flashes of humor in his works.

Though his contribution to the field of choir music has been significant, and many of his choir pieces are regularly performed in Latvia, up until recently there has been no full album of his choir works. The youth choir Kamēr… released a choir music CD called Plakidis / Pelēcis in 2017 that was half Plakidis’ works, half works by composer Georgs Pelēcis. To further reaffirm Plakidis’ valuable contributions to Latvian choir music, the Latvian Radio Choir, conducted by Sigvards Kļava, released a full CD of Plakidis’ choir works entitled Eternity (or Mūžība) in 2021.

Plakidis uses his dramatic skills to full effect on ‘Teiksma’, based on a poem by poet Rainis (which is taken from the prologue of Rainis’ play Uguns un nakts). The work begins quietly, reservedly, with its mysterious text about the moon conjuring a bridge of moonbeams. Using Rainis’ poetry, Plakidis conjures a mystical atmosphere with his music, and the song takes a sudden, startling turn with the loud male voices singing about the spirits of those lost to war. The Latvian Radio Choir skillfully presents this contrast between the two sections of the work, making for an engaging, immersive listen.

 A soft, almost distant vocalize opens ‘Mūžība’, which is then joined by the somber voices of the men’s choir. The text is by Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš, and is a rumination on eternity, with the wordless women’s voices perhaps painting a picture of an endless eternity. Plakidis brings forth the deep sadness in Jaunsudrabiņš’ poetry – “Un naktī, lielās bēdās, kad vēlos mirt un gaist” (And at night, in great sorrow, when I wish to die and fade away) – but also the hopeful moments – “Ar sauli vaigu vaigā kad dienu runājos” (When in daytime, cheek to cheek, I speak so fondly with the sun), this work reveals Plakidis’ abilities to effectively weave together disparate emotions in one song, and the Radio Choir adeptly perform this multifaceted work.

Poet Māris Čaklais’ poem ‘Izkapts ābelē’ is a barely veiled criticism of the forces occupying Latvia, and Plakidis creates a brief choir miniature from the text. The Radio Choir give an indignant, incensed performance, with an audible contempt heard in their singing of text like “svešā mēlē tiem virsū bļāva, un izkapts palika ābelē” (someone yelled at them in a foreign tongue, and the scythe remained in the apple tree). Perhaps it is no surprise that Plakidis was hesitant to publish this work, as it could have had severe consequences during the time of Soviet occupation.

Perhaps Plakidis’ best known choir work is ‘Tavas saknes tavā zemē’ (text by Vizma Belševica), though also composed during Soviet occupation, is a song of stubborn faith and belief (indicated in the repeated text – ‘Esi mierīgs. Tici. Zini. – Tava zeme paliks.’ (Stay calm. Have faith. Know. Your land will remain) – that even during that dark era there remained hope for a better future. This song still resonates today and is a source of inspiration.

The somber and beautiful ‘In Memoriam’ (poetry by Broņislava Martuževa) with its repeated, soaring ‘Viss labais aiziet debesīs’ (Everything that is good moves on), is presented in a particularly moving performance by the Latvian Radio Choir, and Plakidis’ music captures the beauty and uplifting nature of Martuževa’s words.

Composer Pēteris Plakidis’ contribution to the field of Latvian choir music is a singular and exceptional achievement. The composer’s talents with not just dramatic arrangements, but also his ability to reveal the deep emotional currents within the texts with his music, resulted in a body of choir work that is timeless and always able to affect and move listeners. The ever skillful and exceptional Latvian Radio Choir and conductor Sigvards Kļava have, on Eternity, indisputably confirmed the vital essence and beauty of Pēteris Plakidis’ choir music.

For further information please visit the Latvian Radio Choir website and the Skani website.

Pēteris Plakidis – Eternity

Latvian Radio Choir

Track listing:

1. Teiksma

2. Zvana vārdi

3. Izkapts ābelē

4. Mūžība

5. Papardes zieds

Div’ buramdziesmas

6. Mana galva sastīpota

7. Dod mums, Māriņ, to ūdentiņu

8. Maizes dziesma

Divi dziedājumi no Vecās Derības / Two Chants from the Old Testament

9. Verti me ad alia…

10. Et cognovi…

11. Kurzemes krasts, Vidzemes krasts


12. Tuksnešu karstos putekļos

13. Kas kaitēja nedzīvot

14. Meža vīriņš

15. Rudenī

16. Saulīt, mīļā māmulīt

17. Mūža aina

18. Ausmas stundā

19. Jāņa bērnam

20. In memoriam

21. Tavas saknes tavā zemē

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . 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.

Sviests 9 a refreshing mix of Latvian folk groups and songs

The Sviests folk compilation, featuring new recordings by Latvian artists of not just folk songs, but also songs inspired by Latvian (and other cultures’) folk music, is normally released every other year. Though the previous release – Sviests 8 – was released in 2019, due to the pandemic (with its significant impact on performance and music making) meant that the latest entry in the series – Sviests 9 – was only released in 2022.

Though it was released with a small delay, the Sviests 9 compilation, compiled by the Lauska folk music label, brings together twenty new recordings by both well established and new artists and ensembles.

Along well-known names like Tautumeitas (who perform a modern version of the song ‘Brosnej, puika, tū dzeršonu’ – which originally appeared on their album Dziesmas no Aulejas), and Auļi (who, along with Lithuanian singer Laurita Peleniūte perform ‘Sveteilai’ – or ‘Ciemiņi’) are newer faces such as Pupa, performing the wedding song ‘Taisās kāzas’, and Ududu, performing the Mārtiņi celebration song ‘Mārtiņš kūra uguntiņu’.

Dark folk ensemble Rāva present ‘Ceļa māte’, singer Elīna Līce performs the Latvian folk song ‘Nāk rudentiņis’, folk / blues / bluegrass group Rahu the Fool offer ‘Daliņa kājas’, and vocalist Katrīna Dimanta sings about bees in ‘Bites dziesma’. Banga sing in Yiddish on ‘Di Bayke’, and Kārlis Rudra Jirgens mixes the kokle with electronic effects on ‘Kokle dub’.

The CD booklet contains detailed information on the artists and the songs, and helps the listener appreciate the many ways Latvian folk music and culture can be interpreted – both in traditional ways, but also with more modern elements – like jazz and electronic music. The booklet also notes the appearance of many new solo artists (perhaps a consequence of pandemic restrictions – unable to meet others, many musicians had to perform on their own).

For further information, please visit the Lauska website

Sviests 9


  1. Saucējas – Es iesēju kanapīt’
  2. Laurita Peleniūte & Auļi – Sveteilai/ Ciemiņi
  3. Rīgas saksofonu kvartets un Valdis Muktupāvels – Visādi putni
  4. Kalnejas – Raganiņa
  5. Svīres – Velc, pelīte
  6. Edgars Zilberts pied. Staņislavs Judins – Izlietus
  7. TKP – Suņi
  8. FOLK 7 – Vonogu dancs
  9. Tautumeitas – Brosnej, puika, tū dzeršonu
  10. Rahu the Fool – Daliņa kājas
  11. Elīna Līce – Nāk rudentiņis
  12. Ududu – Mārtiņš kūra uguntiņu
  13. Zane Sniķere – Atvasaras vakarā. Iemīlies.
  14. Rāva – Ceļa māte
  15. Jūra – Oj, agri
  16. Dārdi – Raiba govs
  17. Pupa – Taisās kāzas
  18. Katrīna Dimanta – Bites dziesma
  19. Banga – Di Bayke
  20. Kārlis Rudra Jirgens – Kokle dub

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . 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.