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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 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


Jackson (G): A ship with unfurled sails & other choral works


Track 11 on CDA67976 [6'50]

Track-specific metadata for CDA67976 track 11

Recording date
19 March 2010
Recording venue
St John's Church, Riga, Latvia
Recording producer
Normunds Slava
Recording engineer
Aivars Stengelis & Normunds Slava
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