In the early hours of 28 September 1994 the Baltic ferry Estonia
sank in the cold Baltic Sea. Nearly one thousand souls perished in Europe’s worst maritime disaster since the Second World War. Arturs Maskats composed his Lacrimosa
the following year in memory of those lost in this disaster. Maskats studied at the Latvian Academy of Music, graduating in 1982. He spent the following sixteen years as music director of the Daile Theatre in Riga, composing music for over ninety theatrical productions throughout Latvia, before becoming artistic director of the Latvian National Opera. He is an avowed admirer of Latvia’s best-known composer Peteris Vasks, but has also clearly absorbed much from late Romanticism. Both of these elements are present in Lacrimosa
, which moves between a number of emotional extremes over the course of seven minutes. The lyrical vocal writing is often set against a turbulent backdrop of string writing, with the organ also a strong presence. A fugal middle section, with its mechanical driven bass line, reaches an intense crescendo before the voices plaintively answer ‘Domine, Dona eis requiem’ (‘Lord, grant them rest’). Maskats finishes the piece with a profound sense of reconciled peace and, in the final chord, it is as if the depths of the ocean reach into the heavens with the final unresolved high violin tremolo hanging in the air.
from notes by Rupert Gough © 2013