tue 23/04/2024

Estonia

theartsdesk at Tallinn Music Week - art-pop, accordions and a perfect techno hideaway

Tallinn is a very civilised city. It’s enough to provoke intense jealousy on arrival from the land of potholes, two year waiting lists and seven pound pints to find that not only do they have pretty much all the infrastructure of their Nordic...

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Albums of the Year 2023: Cécile McLorin Salvant - Mélusine

If Mélusine is encountered without knowing its background or themes it would still be remarkable. There is no need to know anything about what frames this journey through Chanson Française, electronica, jazz and show-tune sensibilities with lyrics...

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theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2023 - small seaside town, biggest roster of top players

Circumstances matter here. The annual visit to what remains my favourite music festival in the world was going to be kyboshed by the date fixed for a big hospital operation. But the Pärnu Music Festival worked overtime to get me rebooked to the...

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Douglas, Estonian NSO, Elts, Cadogan Hall review - perfect ebb and flow from conductor and pianist

Until last night, I’d only heard the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO at home, “Riiklik” standing for “National”) live in unfamiliar contemporary epics, with Kristiina Poska and Anu Tali respectively conducting Lepo Sumera’s Fourth and...

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Estonian National Male Voice Choir, Üleoja, Kings Place review - full-throated Baltic choral music

One of the singers smashes out a jittery pulse on a shaman drum and the 50-strong choir intone a chant, while at the front a tenor who looks like a doorman you wouldn’t mess with spits out what sounds like a threat from between gritted teeth. It is...

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Tallinn Music Week 2023 review - when music is unavoidably the language of freedom

Estonia’s Mart Avi styles himself as “the twilight samurai of alternative pop”. He creates “nowhere-somewhere music, mapping uncharted territories between avant-pop and timeless grandeur”. The characterisations are issued via AVICORP, his internet...

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Jaan Kross: A Book of Falsehoods review - plague, power and deception in 16th century Tallinn

When the first volume of Estonian master Jaan Kross’s peerless historical trilogy first appeared in an English translation by Merike Lepasaar Beecher back in 2016, what leapt out at me about this fictionalised saga about the adventures of real-life...

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theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2022 - conductors from 15 to 85, and the greatest players

When I first came to Estonia with a then still-exiled Neeme Järvi and his Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 1989, the world-class young musicians who dazzled at this year’s Pärnu Music Festival hadn’t been born.A new Estonian musical golden age is...

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theartsdesk in Estonia: Tallinn-Narva Music Week review - solidarity through music on the Russian border

The gentleman in the centre of the picture above is Ivan Dorn. In Ukraine, he’s a pop star. A big pop star. His music, as he puts it on stage during the show opening Tallinn-Narva Music Week, is “pure Ukrainian house music.” Yep, there’s the bing-...

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Sounds of Estonia, Kings Place review - one of the world's great choirs on spellbinding form

The history of Estonia has been described as “a story set to song”. The Estonian activist Heinz Valk called singing “our nation’s most glorious form of self-expression.” There are, of course, other nations where singing is seen as an expression of...

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Album: Maarja Nuut - Hinged

Hinged ends with “Moment,” a vaporous mood piece where a reflective voice lightly floats over and weaves between two, three-note keyboard arpeggios, occasional Gamelan-style percussive interjections and odd bubbling sounds. “Moment of clarity” are...

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theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2020 – great live orchestra, ecstatic audience

“At the Pärnu Music Festival 2020” were words I never expected to type. A fortnight ago Estonia finally upped its non-quarantinable country rate from 15 to 16 infections in every 100,000 people (the UK was then on 15.9; our unfathomable Foreign...

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