Latvian composer Indra Riše has, throughout her extensive career, made a significant contribution to Latvian academic music. Over many decades, her works have been performed throughout the world. She composes in many different genres – chamber works, solo works, choir music, and she has composed a number of organ works.
It is Riše’s organ works that are the subject of the album Trumpets of Angels, released in 2021. Collecting works recorded over a fifteen-year period, the album spotlights Riše’s notable contribution to the field of organ music.
Riše’s primary collaborator throughout the years has been organist Ligita Sneibe, a relationship that has been ongoing for many decades. The work ‘Mijiedarbība’ (or ‘Interaction’), the earliest recording on the album (from 2000), features both Ligita Sneibe as well as flutist Imants Sneibis. The ‘interaction’ is between the organ and the flute, the work is a kind of a dialogue between the two instruments. A range of emotions is displayed throughout the nearly sixteen-minute work, and Riše weaves together not just the sounds of the instruments, but also allows each instrument to exhibit a unique personality in this expressive work.
The celebratory, resplendent ‘Eņģeļu taures’ (or ‘Trumpets of Angels’), also featuring Sneibe on organ, is a work dedicated to a deceased friend of Riše’s, and is given a vivid, shimmering performance by Sneibe. Sneibe is joined by flutist Anete Toča on the mystical, mysterious ‘Attālumi’ (or ‘Distances’). The work is divided into two sections, with the dreamy first section then transforming into an almost playful second section, with Toča’s flute giving the work an ethereal atmosphere.
Riše also combines the sound of the organ with vocals on the song cycle ‘Dziesmas par Laimi’, using poetry by the Latvian poet Rainis. On this song cycle, the organ is played by Ilona Birģele, and she is joined by soprano Inga Šļubovska-Kancēviča. The cycle, made up of five brief songs, is full of intensity and passion, as Riše’s composition vividly displays the emotions of these songs of happiness by Rainis. Šļubovska-Kancēviča’s soaring soprano vocals make for a natural fit for these texts, particularly in the ode to the sun in ‘Ar atplestām rokām’, and the aching longing of ‘Melnā apsega’.
‘Uguns rituāls’ (or ‘Fire Ritual’) is inspired by ancient rituals of the Baltic peoples and conjures an appropriately mystical atmosphere. As the composer notes in the CD booklet, the Baltic people would have fire rituals four times a year to mark the solstices and equinoxes. The organ, performed by Ligita Sneibe, makes for an enveloping listening experience, particularly in the section ‘Stihiju piesaukšana un ziedošana’, a work about evocation of the gods and sacrifice, which is at times reverent, at times ominous.
The CD booklet contains an extensive interview with the composer by Dāvis Eņģelis, covering many topics, including the composer’s influences and inspirations. One would have liked to hear more about the compositions themselves, but Riša does provide a few brief notes on each work in the booklet as well.
Indra Riše has established herself as one of the premiere composers in Latvia today, and this collection confirms her stature as a leading composer of organ works. Trumpets of Angels, which features the skills of many notable Latvian musicians and interpreters, also shows the many facets of the sound of the organ, confirming that the organ can still be relevant in modern music.
Trumpets of Angels
LMIC/SKANi 090, 2021
- Eņģeļu taures
Dziesmas par Laimi
- Skūpsta ticība
- Prieka ceļš
- Smaidi mutē
- Melnā apsega
- Ar atplestām rokām
- Pulcēšanās svētvietā
- Stihiju piesaukšana un ziedošana
- Aplī iešana