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This is an exceptional recording of exceptional music. Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds is steadily building a considerable reputation for himself (his first opera was successfully premiered in Riga earlier this year). Forty years old next year, Ešenvalds is fortunate to have among his home-grown supporters the excellent Latvian Radio Choir and their long-standing conductor Sigvards Klava. If the main piece is the strikingly rich Passion According to St Luke (2014), the most compositionally remarkable for this listener is The First Tears (2014), a setting of an Inuit folk tale. Ešenvalds evokes a powerful sense of eternal space in this work, with its rich vocal writing plus drum, bells, jaw harp, recorder (though it doesn’t sound like one) and whistles. As to be expected, Klava and his Latvian forces fully inhabit this music, much of which they either commissioned and/or premiered. Throughout, they produce exquisite, refined sonorities. A CD not to be missed.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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