Ešenvalds, Eriks (b1977)
© Hyperion

Ēriks Ešenvalds

born: 26 January 1977
country: Latvia

Ēriks Ešenvalds is a pragmatic composer—pragmatic in the sense that he is always the conscientious professional, tailoring each new work to the requirements of the occasion, the forces available, and the abilities (and priorities) of the performers; pragmatic, too, is his tendency to set English texts, mindful of the needs of an international audience; but also pragmatic is his use of whatever techniques, whatever degree of dissonance or consonance, of rhythmic and textural complexity, suit his expressive purposes at any point. The result might seem to be wilful eclecticism, but like many Baltic composers, his work is characterized by a lack of self-consciousness, a directness of expression that is disarming in its sincerity. Coming to maturity in a newly independent Latvia, he is not subject to the confining strictures of Socialist Realism, nor its mirror image, the equally constricting ideology of Western post-war modernism.

Following his Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition at the Music Academy in Riga, Ešenvalds undertook a wide range of occasional studies—with Jonathan Harvey and Michael Finnissy from the United Kingdom, with the American Richard Danielpour, and with Klaus Huber from Switzerland, among others. Contact with such differing aesthetic outlooks and compositional philosophies has helped him develop a flexible musical language that can encompass the fiercely articulate modernism of Frontiers of time (for strings), the neo-Impressionist orchestral study Clouds, as well as a simple a cappella arrangement of Amazing grace. He has written much instrumental and chamber music as well as a successful opera, Joseph is a fruitful bough, and if the choral medium has become an increasingly prominent strand of his practice in recent years, that should come as no surprise, for he is born of a culture that places choral singing at the very heart of its national identity. Indeed, he is intimate with the workings of the choral repertoire from the inside, as he is also a tenor in the professional State Choir Latvija. Yes, Ēriks Ešenvalds is a pragmatic composer, embracing a medium he knows he has much to offer, and a truly modern one, creating opportunities for himself by reaching out to the world from his tiny country, researching his texts on the internet, and taking his inspiration from such diverse sources as the Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble Officium CD on the ECM label, or a French recording of Albanian folk music.

from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2011

Albums

Ešenvalds: Northern Lights & other choral works
CDA68083To be issued soon 2 February 2015 Release
Ešenvalds: Passion & Resurrection & other choral works
CDA67796

Complete works available for download

A drop in the oceanPolyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Amazing graceTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Anna Cavaliero (mezzo-soprano) February 2015 Release
EveningPolyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Legend of the walled-in womanPolyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Long RoadPolyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Merton College ServiceTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Hannah King (soprano) February 2015 Release
Night PrayerPolyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Northern LightsTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Jamie Roberts (tenor) February 2015 Release
O EmmanuelTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano) February 2015 Release
O salutaris hostiaTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Rachel Ambrose Evans (soprano), Hannah Partridge (soprano) February 2015 Release
Only in sleepTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Rachel Ambrose Evans (soprano) February 2015 Release
Passion and ResurrectionCarolyn Sampson (soprano), Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Psalm 67Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Michael Craddock (bass) February 2015 Release
Rivers of lightTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Hannah King (soprano), Jonathan Pacey (bass), Zane Šmite (jaw harp) February 2015 Release
StarsTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor) February 2015 Release
The earthly roseTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Sally Pryce (harp) February 2015 Release
The heavens' flockTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor) February 2015 Release
The new moonTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor) February 2015 Release
Trinity Te DeumTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Trinity Brass, Sally Pryce (harp) February 2015 Release
Ubi caritasTrinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor) February 2015 Release
Who can sail without the wind?Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (conductor), Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano), Hiroshi Amako (tenor), Sally Pryce (harp) February 2015 Release

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

A drop in the ocean (Ešenvalds)
Alone in the night  
Amazing grace (Ešenvalds)
At thy mystic Supper  
Cik naksnīnas pret ziemeli  
Day, you have bruised and beaten me down  
Did the king in his cardboard house?  
Evening (Ešenvalds)
God be merciful unto us, and bless us  
I love you night and day  
Kuovsakasah reukarih tåkko teki  
Legend of the walled-in woman (Ešenvalds)
Long Road (Ešenvalds)
Magnificat  
Merton College Service (Ešenvalds)
Mistress of night watching down on me  
My soul is very sorrowful  
Night Prayer (Ešenvalds)
Northern Lights (Ešenvalds)
Nunc dimittis  
O dulce lignum  
O Emmanuel (Ešenvalds)
O salutaris hostia (Ešenvalds)
Only in sleep (Ešenvalds)
Parce mihi, Domine  
Passion and Resurrection (Ešenvalds)
Pater noster, qui es in caelis / Lord, make me a channel of your peace  
Psalm 67 (Ešenvalds)
Rivers of light (Ešenvalds)
Stars (Ešenvalds)
Stars, you are the heavens’ flock  
The earthly rose (Ešenvalds)
The heavens' flock (Ešenvalds)
The new moon (Ešenvalds)
Trinity Te Deum (Ešenvalds)
Ubi caritas (Ešenvalds)
We praise thee, O God  
Who can sail without the wind? (Ešenvalds)