New ensemble Raxtu Raxti releases album with folklore elements

Raxtu Raxti is a new ensemble formed by members of the Latvian popular group Autobuss debesīs and Latvian folk musicians, who perform the songs of Latvian composer Imants Kalniņš and others, but with folklore elements and interpretations.  Though only recently formed, the group has quickly become one of the most popular folk ensembles, and the group released their debut album entitled Es atradu tautasdziesmu in 2015.

The group features the Autobuss debesīs members Marts Kristiāns Kalniņš (vocals, keyboards), Armands Treilihs (bass guitar) and Kārlis Auzāns (guitar and cello), joined by folk singer Kristīne Kārkle (vocals, violin) and Edgars Kārklis (vocals, bagpipes, and accordion). Joining the musicians on the album are Artis Orubs on percussion and Ilze Grunte on 12 string guitar.

The album opens with the dreamy ‘Es atradu tautasdziesmu’, a song with music by Imants Kalniņš and lyrics by Laima Līvena, slowly building in intensity over a simple keyboard melody and subtle cello line. Singer Kristīne Kārkle (who seems to be just about everywhere these days, performing with Folkvakars, Trio Šmite Kārkle Cinkuss, and Valts Pūce, among others), delivers a stirring vocal performance with her distinctive voice.

The song ‘Zanes dziesma’ from the film Pūt, vējiņi! (music by Imants Kalniņš, lyrics by Rainis and folksong elements), a fantasy about a young girl doing laundry by the Daugava River who has her wreath stolen from her head by a green pike, and then her ring also falls in the river. The music by Kalniņš and vocals by Kārkle give the song a mystic quality, as the girl reaches from her ring and thinks about what the future might bring her.

Though almost all the music on the album was composed by Imants Kalniņš, other composers are represented here as well. Composer Juris Vaivods provides the music for Rūdolfs Blaumanis’ folksong-style poem ‘Apkal manu kumeliņu’. Blaumanis’ metaphorical imagery – comparing the arduous task of winning the respect of a girls’ mother to climbing a mountain of ice, makes for a rousing, almost war-like song. In the end, the lad prepares his horse for this tortuous journey, chops up the ice mountain, and wins the approval of the mother. The song also features lead vocals by Edgars Kārklis (who also plays with the drum and bagpipe ensemble Auļi).

One of the many positive aspects of the album is its liveliness – reflected in songs such as ‘Man apnikusi’ (music by Imants Kalniņš, lyrics by Broņislava Martuževa), a song for anyone who experiences frustration with life and seeking more enjoyment out of life. Martuževa, who died in 2012, writes ‘Man apnicis ikvienu soli kā rubli bankā reģistrēt, es gribu līdz ar naktsvijoli uz meža noras noziedēt’ (I’m sick of registering every step like a rouble in the bank, I want to blossom like a butterfly orchid in a forest glade). The music of Kalniņš and vocals by Kārkle memorably capture the defiance and dreaminess of the poet’s words.

Autobuss debesīs have always been closely associated with Imants Kalniņš, which should be little surprise, considering that singer Marts Kristiāns Kalniņš is Kalniņš’ son. The group almost exclusively perform only his songs, and have become popular and successful in doing so. Still, performing the works of only one composer can be limiting, so the fact that there are multiple composers (including the group themselves) on the album provides for more variety. Also, one of the many aspects that makes Raxtu Raxti’s Es atradu tautasdziesmu is that it includes some of Kalniņš lesser known songs, and shies away from his biggest hits.

Es atradu tautasdziesmu, with its folklore elements and imaginative new arrangements, makes for a refreshing and enjoyable listen, shining new light on some older songs and presenting some new songs that feel right at place with the others. Though a new ensemble, Raxtu Raxti’s members, with their decades of performance experience, bring a solid music foundation, as well as a unique melding of popular and folk song elements. With this mix of folk elements with compositions by Imants Kalniņš and other composers, the album stands up well with the many other folk albums released in recent memory.

For more information, please visit the group’s Facebook page.


Raxtu raxti Es atradu tautasdziesmu


Es atradu tautasdziesmu

Raxtu raxti
Produced by MICREC, 2015

Track listing

  1. Es atradu tautasdziesmu
  2. Karsta mana jauna dziesma
  3. Vedību dziesma
  4. Puiša dziesma
  5. Rakstu rakstus
  6. Modināšanas dziesma
  7. Zanes dziesma
  8. Klusi, klusi
  9. Apkal manu kumeliņu
  10. Šorīt saule
  11. Man apnikusi
  12. Laime, laime

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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