A BLACK BIRCH IN WINTERAmerican and Estonian Choral Music
Gregory Brown, Maria Kõrvits, Evelin Seppar, Kile Smith, Pärt Uusberg
DAVID PUDERBAUGH, conductor
World Premiere Recordings
"[Voces Musicales has a] smoothly manicured sound... the 24 singers producing a richly blended, beautifully balanced sound, undeniably, appealing to all but the most jaded of ears... Fine sound, fascinating disc..."
Guy Rickards, Gramophone [February 2020]
“[This] is a singularly lovely disc. The general mood here is contemplative. Most of these works are slow in tempo, but what keeps us interested is the variety of choral textures and colors, and a high level of inspiration... Throughout the program the relationship between text and music is very strong, and one is grateful to MSR for providing English texts. The choral singing could hardly be bettered—beautifully balanced, perfectly in tune, and intense in its concentration. [The recording] is suffused with the warm glow and resonance you would expect from a church setting, but it is balanced with real clarity. I can recommend this release with enthusiasm to any lover of choral singing.”
Henry Fogel, Fanfare [January/February 2020]
“[this is ] a fascinating program of music... this is a bautifully engineered disc, capturing the balanced sound of twenty-four expert voices... The ensemble comprises excellent voices that have been trained to blend seamlessly... here is prtoof that the famed Estonian choral tradition remains vibrant and flourishing.”
Philip Barnes, ACDA Choral Journal [January 2020]
"Gorgeous, transcendent, resonant, radiant and transfixing... [This album] is destined to thrill a listener to the core just when [they thought] beauty has been totally drained out of the world... this international recording is a welcome reminder that is not the case... If your mind is full of thoughts, visions and desires and you set this CD to play, you may find yourself completely absorbed, mesmerized, as I was, listening to the choir in deep meditation, piece after piece... The vocal range and harmonious quality of the chorus contribute to the quality of the effort inspired by the outstanding poetry that has been set."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [November 2019]
"The world première recordings performed by the Voces Musicales chamber choir...provide an opportunity to explore less-familiar vocal territory... The very smoothness of the chorus tends to lull a listener to this CD... the choir’s singing [is] even and well-balanced."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [November 2019]
PROGRAM NOTESIn the fall of 2004, with the benefit of a Fulbright Scholarship, American conductor David Puderbaugh arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, to embark on a year-long study of the venerated Estonian national song festivals (laulupidu) for his doctoral dissertation. He soon joined the Estonian chamber choir Voces Musicales as a singer for that concert season and returned to Estonia numerous times in the following years to perform with the choir, not only as a singer but as conductor. A Black Birch in Winter is symbolic of the long relationship between Puderbaugh and Voces Musicales—an American conductor and an Estonian choir collaborating on a recording of recent choral music of the two nations. It is also emblematic of the primary goal of the Fulbright program, which initially brought this conductor and choir together: “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
David Puderbaugh is Assistant Director of Choral Activities at the University of Iowa, where he conducts the UI Camerata, teaches graduate choral literature and undergraduate choral conducting, advises doctorate theses and assists in administration of the choral program. He is also Associate Director of the School of Music, overseeing its graduate program. Puderbaugh conducts the Chamber Singers of Iowa City, an ensemble that performs choral music of all eras; recent notable performances include Beethoven’s Mass in C major, Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, Haydn’s The Seasons, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil and Pärt’s Passio. Puderbaugh’s current focus centers on Estonian choral music, an interest that resulted in a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct dissertation research on that country’s national song festivals during the Soviet occupation. He served as consultant for the educational DVD release of the documentary film The Singing Revolution (Sky Films Incorporated, 2008) as well as for the making of its sequel, To Breathe as One (2014). Puderbaugh seeks to bring the Baltic region’s vast choral treasury to the United States through performance and the creation of performing and critical editions. Puderbaugh is active in several professional organizations. He is the editor of the Recorded Sound Reviews column in the ACDA Choral Journal, and has served as editor of the NC-ACDA newsletter Melisma and board secretary for the Iowa chapter of the Fulbright Association. In addition, Puderbaugh is a member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization, College Music Society and Pi Kappa Lambda honorary music society. Also an active tenor soloist, he has performed in the Midwest and in Estonia in repertoire that includes Messiah, The Creation, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Schütz’s St. John Passion. In Estonia, Puderbaugh has premiered several works by contemporary Estonian composers in the annual Eesti Muusika Päevad new music festival and appeared in performances of Orazio Vecchi’s madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso. Puderbaugh frequently collaborates with Voces Musicales as both vocalist and conductor. He holds degrees from Drake University, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Iowa. His teachers include Timothy Stalter, David Rayl and Aimee Beckmann-Collier.
Chamber Choir Voces Musicales, founded in 1999 by Risto Joost, occupies an established and unique place in Estonian musical life, presenting works that are seldom performed due to their difficulty. The choir achieved success in its early seasons, receiving awards in several competitions, including Second Prize at the Harald Andersén Chamber Choir Competition in 2009. In 2014, the choir was a finalist in the London International A Cappella Choir Competition. The repertoire of Voces Musicales includes works in diverse genres, including Renaissance polyphony and contemporary music, as well as numerous works in the established classical canon. Recent notable performances by the choir include Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Requiem; Arvo Pärt’s Stabat Mater and Kanon Pokajanen; Handel’s Solomon, Alexander’s Feast, Messiah and Dixit Dominus; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Haydn’s The Creation; Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine; and J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor. The choir has participated in various themed concert series and festivals, appearing in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. In addition to its work with Joost, Voces Musicales has also performed with several other outstanding conductors, including Neeme Järvi, Eri Klas, Olari Elts, Arvo Volmer, Andres Mustonen, Kaspar Mänd, Stephen Layton and Peter Phillips. The choir has performed with many renowned Estonian orchestras and ensembles, as well as with Sinfonietta Rīga (Latvia), Baroque ensemble Barrocade (Israel), and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan). In 2015, Voces Musicales received the annual music award of the Estonian Culture Endowment. The choir’s recent album Pilgrim’s Song, highlighting the music of Arvo Pärt, received widespread acclaim.
Anni Marie Rea
PROGRAMEVELIN SEPPAR (b.1986)
KILE SMITH (b.1956)
WHERE FLAMES A WORD
I. Before your late face
II. Conversation in the Mountains
III. I know you, you are the deeply bowed
PÄRT UUSBERG (b.1986)
I. Otsida iseend
II. Viibida, vaikida…
GREGORY W. BROWN (b.1975)
THE FABRIC OF STREAMS
A BLACK BIRCH IN WINTER
MARIA KÕRVITS (b.1987)
GRAN PIANT’ AGLI OCHI
MINA SEE OLIN