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Magi: Orchestral Music / Volmer, Kutson, Estonian National


Release Date: 04/10/2007 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 54   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ester Magi
Performer:  Ada KuuseoksTarma PajusaarMikalaim Mati
Conductor:  Arvo VolmerMihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



MÄGI Vesper. 1 Piano Concerto. 1,3 Bukoolika. 1 Variations for Piano, Clarinet, and Chamber Orchestra. 2,4,5 Symphony 2 Arvo Volmer, cond; 4 Mihkel Kütson, cond; 5 Ada Kuuseoks (pn); Read more class="SUPER12">3 Tarma Pajusaar (cl); 4 Mati Mikalai (pn); 5 Estonian Natl SO TOCCATA 54 (64:44)


Estonian composer Ester Mägi (b. 1922) received her early training at the Talinn Conservatory, before doing post-graduate work in Moscow with Vissarion Shebalin. She subsequently returned to her alma mater and chose the career of teacher, where she remained until her retirement in 1984. Despite foregoing the life of a freelance composer, Mägi has composed extensively over the years. National recognition came late in life—her first state prize was awarded in 1980; but she has become popular over the years, with numerous commissions that continued into her seventies and eighties.


Mägi’s style could best be described as broadly nationalistic. It ranges from her early Piano Concerto (1953)—very much a Soviet-based “youth concerto” in style, heart-on-sleeve and ultra-conservative, but with more substance than most I’ve heard over the years—to acerbically 20th century in her Symphony from 1968. Lest this be viewed as a linear progression, her Vesper from 1990 is the most immediately appealing composition on the album. Nocturnal in theme rather than religious, it began as a violin and piano piece that was adapted for string ensemble eight years later. The work has some of the meditative beauty in Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht , and could easily prove a hit with audiences seeking more of the same.


The simple, repetitive modal flute melody towards the beginning of Bukoolika (1983) gives away its origins as a pastoral (“bukoolika” means bucolic) tone poem. Mägi builds discreet tonal blocks, Janá?ek-like, out of thematic cells. The results are pleasantly different, if not especially memorable. By way of contrast, the highly inventive Variations for Piano, Clarinet, and Chamber Orchestra (1972) recalls Bartók at times in its moderate harmonic astringency and obsessive use of short, transformed thematic and rhythmic folk cells. This applies as well to the Symphony, a three-movement work whose unassuming length of nearly 14 minutes does nothing to mitigate its aura of unease and power.


The performances are uniformly good, with close attention paid to accenting, firm rhythms, and sectional blending. Occasional scrappiness and intonation problems occur in Bukoolika and the Symphony—the two works that were recorded live—but they don’t materially affect the enjoyment of this album. If this CD is anything to go by, Mägi has far more to offer than the usual East European “picture postcard,” and I hope we’ll hear more from her.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Vesper by Ester Magi
Conductor:  Arvo Volmer,  Mihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
2.
Concerto for Piano by Ester Magi
Performer:  Ada Kuuseoks (Piano)
Conductor:  Arvo Volmer,  Mihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953 
3.
Bukoolika by Ester Magi
Conductor:  Arvo Volmer,  Mihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983 
4.
Variations for Piano, Clarinet, and Chamber Orchestra by Ester Magi
Performer:  Tarma Pajusaar (Clarinet), Mikalaim Mati (Piano)
Conductor:  Arvo Volmer,  Mihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972 
5.
Symphony by Ester Magi
Conductor:  Arvo Volmer,  Mihkel Kütson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

Sound Samples

Vesper
Piano Concerto: I. Allegro moderato
Piano Concerto: II. Andante sostenuto
Piano Concerto: III. Allegro
Bukoolika
Variations for Piano, Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra
Symphony: I. Allegro Assai
Symphony: II. Andante
Symphony: III. Presto

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