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In the early 2000s, a decade after Estonia achieved independence from the Soviet Union, Paul Hillier embarked on a major recording project with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir to explore the choral riches of the region. Baltic Voices was the result: three CDs showcasing the most significant composers from the Baltic and Scandinavian lands. Almost two decades on, we are generally far more familiar with the works of Rautavaara, Pärt, Tüur, Górecki et al than we were then, and this is in no small measure due to Hillier’s pioneering work. His and the excellent Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s original three CDs have now been repackaged together in a slipcase: it remains a superb exploration of both sacred and secular choral music, from Denmark in the west to Russia in the east. Each disc is beautifully recorded and exquisitely executed, Hillier drawing out of his singers the richest, most sumptuous blend in which not a detail is missed. Admittedly, not every work represents the best of each composer – Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns (1983/84) is hardly that major figure’s finest hour – but if you want to get an overview of the Baltic region’s contemporary choral heritage, then you could not start in a better place than with these CDs.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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