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Mart Saar (1882-1963), one of the founders of modern Estonian music, was essentially a miniaturist, as this CD underlines: its 45 tracks require only 71 minutes, the longest being a five-minute Elegy; many others are under a minute. Most of the works date from between 1906 and 1939-40 (the curious will find more detail at www.emic.ee than is given with this CD), take the form of bagatelles, marches, ‘moments’, waltzes, mazurkas and other dances, and hover in style between post-Chopin and mild Scriabin. Vardo Rumessen, longtime a defender of his Estonian heritage, does what he can with this elusive material, some of it elliptical, some fresh and charming; but he is not helped by the metallic sound of the upper registers.

MARTIN ANDERSON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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