Latvian Radio Choir
Thursday, November 15, 2018 | 8:00 pm
Founded in the dark days of 1940, at the beginning of the country’s occupation by the Soviet Union, the Latvian Radio Choir takes an unconventional approach to choral music, foregrounding the unique timbre of each of its twenty-four virtuoso singers. Rather than asking these talented musicians to sacrifice their individuality for the sake of a smoothly blended and unified sound, conductors Sigvards Kļava and Kaspars Putniņš trust them to sing out, creating what they call a “timbral bouquet.” To augment its already broad repertoire, the choir commissions ten new works by Latvian composers each year.
At Duke Chapel, the Latvijas Radio Koris, as they are known at home, sing a largely sacred program of music from the sixteenth century to the present day. Their program is bookended by two Venetian renaissance motets from Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sacrae Symphoniae, and includes early sacred works by Gesualdo and Purcell; modern sacred works by Stravinsky, Messiaen, and Pärt; and arrangements of haunting Mahler lieder — Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen and Die zwei blauen Augen — that work beautifully in a sacred context. The concert would not be complete without a Latvian composition: Pēteris Vasks’ Our Mothers’ Names, which mixes ancient sonorities with stunning modern counterpoint.
Giovanni Gabrieli: Deus in Nomine Tuo from Sacrae Symphoniae 1615
Gustav Mahler, arr. Gottwald: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen and Die zwei blauen Augen
Arvo Pärt: Nunc Dimittis
Peteris Vasks: Our Mothers’ Names
Henry Purcell, arr. Sandstrom: Hear My Prayer, O Lord
Igor Stravinsky: Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo
Olivier Messiaen, arr. Gottwald: Louange à l’éternité de Jésus
Carlo Gesualdo, arr. Stravinsky: Tres Sacrae Cantiones : Da Pacem Domine, Assumpta Est Maria, Illumina nos Misericordiarum
Gustav Mahler, arr. Pesson: Adagietto
Giovanni Gabrieli: Jubilemus Singuli from Sacrae Symphionae 1627
“The Latvians soar, shine and spin diaphanous fabrics of sound, as lovely as rays of light through stained glass, all the while instilling the words with genuine emotion.”