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Track(s) taken from CDA67976

A ship with unfurled sails

July to August 2009; Brockley; SATB divisi; commissioned by Joy Hill and the Vigala Singers and first performed by them at the Klara Kyrka, Stockholm, on 15 August 2009
author of text
translator of text

The State Choir Latvija, Māris Sirmais (conductor)
Recording details: March 2010
St John's Church, Riga, Latvia
Produced by Normunds Slava
Engineered by Aivars Stengelis & Normunds Slava
Release date: January 2013
Total duration: 6 minutes 50 seconds

Cover artwork: Moonlight Departure (1998) by Richard Crichton (b1935)
Private Collection / Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Australia / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Unquestionably the State Choir Latvia is a magnificent body of singers. They encompass a vast dynamic range and deliver words and music with impeccable precision and clarity … they thrill with their rhythmically compelling opening unisons, entice with their delicate chording … and soothe with their lilting harmonic underlay' (Gramophone)

'In The Voice of the Bard, which opens this Gabriel Jackson collection, the State Choir Latvija manages both a bristling ardour in its delivery of the text and a virtuoso response to the vocal demands of the setting … Jackson's long, soothingly lyrical arcs of melody are sensually shaped and executed with impressive corporate unanimity … an incandescent performance of the 40-part motet Sanctum est verum lumen sets the seal on this magnificent demonstration of the art of choral singing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This disc is, quite simply, full of marvels … any listener will surely react with awe to the sheer splendour and choral daring, both from the composer and from the fabulous choir' (International Record Review)

'All the music is full of interest and is written with what we’ve come to expect from this composer; namely a highly imaginative ear for choral texture, great empathy for the human voice and tremendous responsiveness to texts. It’s hard—nay, impossible—to imagine these pieces receiving finer advocacy than they receive from the superb Latvian choir, who give one of the most memorable exhibitions of unaccompanied choral singing that I’ve heard for some time. If you factor in also that the recorded sound is splendid and the documentation up to Hyperion’s usual excellent standards then this disc can only be regarded as a pretty compelling proposition' (MusicWeb International)
The native singing cultures and literary traditions of Estonia and Latvia have entered Gabriel Jackson’s sphere of creative influences over the course of regular visits to the Baltic region. A ship with unfurled sails leads the ear directly to the words of Doris Kareva, one of Estonia’s leading poets, conveyed here in the English of Eric Dickens and underpinned for much of the piece by a lilting riff for divided altos. The work was created in the summer of 2009 for Joy Hill’s Vigala Singers, the Royal Junior College of Music alumni chamber choir. Kareva’s imagery elicits yearning melodies from Jackson and, of equal expressive significance, periodic silences timed to fall between the poet’s lines. Her text predates Estonia’s independence from Soviet rule, its long-awaited ship ‘under no flag’ clearly intended as a metaphor for freedom. A hypnotic vocalise of quaver triplets, voiced by divided sopranos and altos, stands halo-like above the composer’s wistful setting of ‘Imperceptibly all is changed’ for unison tenors and basses. The passage’s sense of expectation is resolved with a sublime final modulation from minor to major mode and the consequent reassurance that ‘all arrives so secretly’.

from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013

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