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Tubin: The Parson Of Reigi, Requiem For Fallen Soldiers

Release Date: 12/29/2008 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: ODE783   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Eduard Tubin
Performer:  Anita TonuriUrve TautsLiuwe TammingaTiit Tralla,   ... 
Conductor:  Paul MägiEri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Opera OrchestraEstonian National Male Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although Eduard Tubin is best known for his symphonies (all ten are available on BIS), he also wrote a number of stage works, the ballet Kratt, and two operas, Barbara von Tisenhusen and The Parson of Reigi, both of which have been produced in Estonia in recent years. The Parson of Reigi comes from 1971, that is to say, between the Ninth and Tenth Symphonies and is a relatively short work lasting just over an hour and 20 minutes. It is based on a novel by the Finnishborn Aino KaIlas (1878-1956) whose plot can be briefly summarized.

The setting is a desolate fishing-village, Reigi in seventeenth-century Estonia, then ruled by Sweden. In the first scene the parson Paavali Lempelius awaits the arrival from Stockholm of a new
Read more deacon, Jonas Kempe, whose interest in his wife Catharina rapidly becomes evident, as does hers in him. By the third scene Catharina confides her passion for Kempe to her maid Viiu, and by this time Lempelius's suspicions have become aroused. It subsequently emerges that Kempe's banishment from Stockholm was prompted by a similar affair. Their love becomes public knowledge and after angry scenes, they flee. Under Swedish law of the period, adultery was a capital offence and the last two scenes take place in Tallinn, where the lovers are taken after their capture and where they meet their end—to tumultuous bell tolling!

Tubin's music depicts the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small household to excellent effect, and his portrayal of nature scenes (the departing fishermen at dawn) and the evocation of the white nights of summer in the third scene are full of imagination. Moreover, the characterization of both the major and minor roles is far more vivid than one might expect from a composer predominantly symphonic in temperament and outlook. This impression is aided by the excellent performances of the three principals. There is variety of pace and Tubin succeeds in involving the listener in what is, after all, a very simple dramatic situation. Of course he had stage experience before the war, when he was in charge of music at the Vanemuine Theatre in Tallinn.

If the singing is of a high standard, the orchestra of the Estonia Opera is little more than adequate. However, readers who like, say, Sallinen's operas will find this music just as rewarding, and in some respects more substantial.

The Requiem for Fallen Soldiers was begun in 1950, some time before the Sixth Symphony. However, in the middle of the second movement Tubin suddenly put the work on one side, returning to it after almost 30 years, in the late 1970s.

The texts by the Estonian poet Henrik Visnapuucome from the period of the Estonian war of independence after the First World War. There are two soloists, contralto (or in this case a mezzosoprano), baritone and male chorus. (The mezzo here has, I'm afraid, quite a wide vibrato.) The instrumental forces are merely an organ, piano, drums, timpani and trumpet so that the overall impression is dark and sombre. The whole piece is powerfully austere and impressive. The Estonian National Male Choir are stronger than their rivals from Lund on BIS, and although that version has an inspired contribution in the final Largo from Hakan Hardenberger, this present account makes the more satisfying overall impression.

-- Gramophone [1/1993]
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Works on This Recording

The Parson of Reigi by Eduard Tubin
Performer:  Anita Tonuri (Soprano), Urve Tauts (Mezzo Soprano), Liuwe Tamminga (Alto),
Tiit Tralla (Tenor), Arvo Laid (Baritone), Teo Maiste (Baritone),
Marika Eensalu (Soprano), Ivo Kuusk (Tenor)
Conductor:  Paul Mägi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; Sweden 
Requiem for Fallen Soldiers by Eduard Tubin
Performer:  Urve Tauts (Mezzo Soprano), Talivaldis Deksnis (Organ)
Conductor:  Eri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian National Male Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Sweden 

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