Estonian Music Days

Tallinn / Tartu
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Thu, April 21 2022
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Estonian Museum of Architecture
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Tickets: 20/15€

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Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Momir Novakovic (accordion)
Conductor Lodewijk van der Ree

Arne Nordheim (1931–2010) – Flashing for accordion (1986)

Andrus Kallastu (b. 1967) – Tropus nebulosus (2022, premiere)

Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959) – Spectrum I for accordion (1989)

Arash Yazdani (b. 1985) – Hurreh (2022, premiere)

Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931) – Sonata Et exspecto for accordion I–II (1986)

Jüri Reinvere (b. 1971) – On Hidden Ways (2022, premiere, commissioned by Eesti Kontsert)


Flashing was written between 1985–1986 for the distinguished Danish accordionist Mogens Ellegaard. A work of virtuoso proportions, as indicated by its title, it is a reworking of material taken from the cadenza of Spur, a 1974 composition for solo accordion and orchestra. In Flashing, the composer explores what he describes as the “interesting possibilities” of the instrument, such as its ability to sustain notes in crescendo or diminuendo (which compares to the human voice), its variety of register (likened to the organ), and attacks which can be quite metallic. Nordheim relates his interest in the accordion to his work in electronic music.

Tropus Nebulosus (“Udutroop”, 2022, premiere). “I raise my eyes up to the sky. Up there, clouds are moving invisibly yet at a tremendous speed. In the upper spheres, one can see the fragile cirrus clouds, then the stratus clouds, and in the lower layers, the cumulus clouds which take fantastic forms. However, the common Estonian mist is the most astonishing phenomenon: it embraces the earth, wrapping itself around everything alive and lifeless, making the real unreal. The world is wonderful!” (Andrus Kallastu)

Hurreh (2022, premiere) for chamber choir (12 solo voices).
The songs I remember the most, and yet I don’t quite remember, are those I heard in
early childhood. In the mountainous regions where tribal life and traditions were still
alive. They weren’t so much songs as much as they were the collective eruption of
emotions. A group of mourners, unpracticed and untrained, start to sing these
impromptu chants.
Hurreh is the type of chants sung by men. They could be epic or lyric but most powerful
ones are those of the funerals. Together with other type of funeral chants sung by
group of women (of Lori/Kurdish folks), which are called Gā Geriv.
The texts, like the songs themselves, are invented on the spot by the singer(s), that
includes what occasion or reason the chants are being sung. They include name of the
people for whom they sing.
Hurreh or Gā Geriv is not a performance; does not have audience. It’s a song for when
one is utterly powerless and yet must sing.
In this piece the lyrics which are in Persian, and Lori dialect. The Lori texts are loosely
taken from various mourning chants (Gā Geriv or Xun Geriv and Hurreh etc.) of various
Lori tribes. Additionally a fragment from a poem by Iranian poet Nima Yooshij (1897-
1960) is used in this piece. In a short part of the piece the used verses of this poem
are used backwards (thus creating words with different meanings, new phonemes and
The actual poem may be translatable in meaning, but impossible to convey its rhythm,
weight, intonation, acoustics or all other layers that are attached to a piece of
literature. Here is a translation of the opening verses, in English, which I used:
In the cold winter night
The furnace of the sun too
Burns not like the hot hearth of my lamp,
And no lamp is luminous as mine
Neither it freezes by the cold moon that shines above.”
(Arash Yazdani)

Sofia Gubaidulina’s frequently performed sonata Et exspecto for bayan solo in five movements was composed in 1986. Like many other works by this profoundly religious composer, this one has a close connection to the Christian faith. With Et exspecto, Sofia Gubaidulina also refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Two sonic spheres come together in this work, now being published in the “exempla nova” series a tonal chorale is confronted by blocks of clusters. The composer maintains this chorale in the first four movements; it is only absent from the fifth and final movement. What can be sensed by all listeners is the increasingly dissonant spectrum over the course of this composition, in which the noise of the air button on the Russian button-action bayan plays an important role. Sofia Gubaidulina has dedicated her Sonata for bayan solo to the editor Friedrich Lips.

Auf dem verborgenen Weg (On a Hidden Path, 2022, premiere). Jüri Reinvere: “There is a passage in the Book of Job: “Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?” 

In the festival theme “Upside Down”, I also sense an obligation to make choices as part of being a human being, including choices that will lead us down dim-lit paths. There is something odd about making choices: our lives constantly force us to make them and choose between different poor options. But the worst thing we can do is not make a choice at all or pressure someone else to do it. According to my observations, those are the most miserable people in this world. 

As a small nation, we often feel that we are backed into a corner and for several centuries we have also been forced to walk in darkness. On the other hand, it has been a choice that has helped us survive – we could not have challenged a superior power, as war would have meant suicide. 

It is all the more important to perceive things differently today: to understand that we are all free to make choices, we have an opportunity to choose, walk along traditional paths… or choose something else.”

Im Verborgenen

Diesen Weg kenne nur ich.
Alles, woran ich mich nicht erinnere,
Alles, was ich gezielt vergaß,
Berührt er:
Die Nacht, voll mit Beeren und Düften.

Höher und höher
Steigt dieser Weg,
über Steine bis durch die Äste
Der Bäume.

Und ich sehe, noch ganz fern
Etwas wie Morgen,
Voll Tau und frischer Luft.

Als wäre ich nackt auf der Flucht,
Heißt mich der Weg willkommen
Und lädt mich ein
Ins Dunkel.

Was ich bin,
Wird nichtig auf ihm,
Was ich hoffte,
Bleibt hinter mir.
Doch über dem Samt unter
Meinen Sohlen
Flüstern die Gimpel allwegs:
Du bist endlich
Noch nicht angekommen.
(Text Jüri Reinvere)

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has become one of the most famous Estonian music collectives in the world. In one season, the choir usually gives 60-70 concerts in Estonia and abroad. The repertoire spans from medieval Gregorian chant to the compositions of the 21st century. A special focus is on introducing the oeuvre of Estonian composers to the world. The current programme is excitingly international: new compositions have been composed specifically for this concert by the Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere who studied in Poland and Finland but currently resides in Germany; Andrus Kallastu who also studied in Finland; and the Iranian composer Arash Yazdani who has lived in Estonia already for many years. The musicians of this concert include accordionist Momir Novakovic from Serbia who will be performing Norwegian (Arne Nordheim), Russian music with Tatar roots (Sofia Gubaidulina) and Estonian (Erkki-Sven Tüür) music. The choir will be conducted by the Dutch singer and conductor Lodewijk van der Ree.

In collaboration with Eesti Kontsert and Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
Live-broadcast by Klassikaraadio and EMP TV.