Folk group Ceiruleits brings traditional life in Latgale to life on new album

The Latvian folk ensemble Ceiruleits has now been playing and performing since 1990. Based out of the town of Līvāni, the group performs folk songs from the Latgale region of Latvia in a traditional manner. The group released their most recent album – Skaņu balseņu palaidu – in 2021.

The large ensemble – the CD booklet lists seventeen participants (and almost all of them provide vocals) – is led by Anna Kārkle. With such a large number of vocalists and instrumentalists, the songs have a very rich and textured sound, and the arrangements make extensive use of vocal harmonies, such as on ‘Kyukoj pūru dzagyuzeite’ and the song ‘Skaņu balseņu palaidu’, where the soaring female voices are used to great effect.

The album is full of cheery, joyous songs, such as ‘Ļusteigu munu prōteņu’, a song about forgetting one’s troubles, and ‘Sazīdēja gaiļa pīši’, a wedding dance song, a tribute to the occasionally raucous and multi-day affairs that are Latgalian weddings. Ceiruleits provide a similarly exuberant performance of ‘Es nagōju krustobōs’, a christening song, and the guests wish the young child a hundred cows, bulls and horses.

Some of the most beautiful folk songs come from the Latgale region, and one such example is ‘Zynu, zynu tāva sātu’, a song about being always able to remember one’s father’s homestead, as a bride returns after being away for a long time, and Ceiruleits accent the longing in the wistful interpretation of this song.

Though most of the songs on the album are brief (two minutes or shorter), ‘Nadūd, Dīvs, veitūlam’ lasts for more than seven minutes. A song in a minor key (comparatively rare in Latvian folk songs overall, but a bit more common in songs from Latgale), the song, about a drunkard and his bride, tells of the travails and sadness of the bride. The bride waits all night for her drunkard to return home, but then eventually shuts the drunkard out of the house and makes him sleep on the road. The ironic refrain – which would indicate happiness in any other song – ‘I will wed the most beautiful girl and live happily ever after’ – compounds the tragedy of the song, and Ceiruleits give a memorable interpretation of the song.

The CD booklet contains the song lyrics, but it would have been interesting to read more about the ensemble and why some of the songs were chosen. The booklet could also have benefited from English translations (or brief explanations of what the songs are about), for those listeners not familiar with Latvian or Latgalian.

With their authentic performances, rich harmonies, and enthusiastic singing and playing, Ceiruleits have recorded a memorable album of Latgalian folk songs on Skaņu balseņu palaidu. Covering many aspects of life in Latgale – birth, christenings, weddings, working hard, and, most of all, enjoying life, the songs and performances reveal the many treasures that are Latgalian folk songs.

For further information, please visit the Ceiruleits Facebook page

Skaņu balseņu palaidu


SKU C 01, 2021

Track listing:

  1. Zynu, zynu tāva sātu
  2. Ceļ, mameņa, gūvu gani
  3. Kyukoj pūru dzagyuzeite
  4. Jura polka
  5. Tolka lela, tolka moza
  6. Jau sauleite aizalaide
  7. Zīdi, zīdi ōru pļova
  8. Gaismeņa ause
  9. Sazīdēja gaiļa pīši
  10. Aiz azara malni meži
  11. Oi, Dīveņ(i), soldons ols
  12. Nadūd, Dīvs, veitūlam
  13. Vysu mežu izstaigōju
  14. Es nagōju krustobōs
  15. Skaņu balseņu palaidu

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.

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