Listeners will probably agree that this third CD is the most varied in content. It will always be a leap to go from Górecki’s slow-moving, pan-consonant harmonies to the wailing saxophones and tooth-mark dissonance of Tüür; and I have contrasted Lithuanian minimalism and Holmgreen’s constructions in white with two Finnish modernists, though again there is quite a jump from the Francophile intimacies of Saariaho to the Germanic surrealism of Bergman’s Morgenstern settings.
Choral music tends to be more conservative in style than instrumental music, mostly for the practical reason that singers enjoy and find it easier to sing music that is rooted in tonality. Many instrumentalists prefer it too, if the truth be known, but it is easier to play difficult notes than to sing them. By sustaining a strong choral tradition, the Baltic area has fostered a continuing respect for tonal music, and when the pendulum of music fashion started to move away from the avant-gardism of the 1960s and ’70s, many Baltic composers found themselves on the crest of a wave: the obvious examples include Pärt, Vasks, Górecki, and Tormis. But it would paint a very false picture indeed to suggest that the region has ignored modernism, either generally or even specifically in the choral sphere. To some extent Baltic Voices 3 this CD will redress that balance. However, if I have favoured the more tonal styles, this is because there are many more composers who have produced fresh and exciting choral music in that language, than those using a more experimental vocal style or a more instrumental idiom. It is interesting, moreover, to note that those who are successful at bridging this gap are usually themselves singers or have strong choral-conducting experience.
NOTICE: The track Erkki-Sven Tüür - Meditatio (2003), is not included in this DSD Album because it was not originally recorded in DSD. The booklet comes from the CD and thus does mention it in the track list.