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Vox Clamantis

Cyrillus Kreek - The Suspended Harp of Babel


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1 Kreek: The Sun Shall Not Smite Thee  
2 Whilst Great Is Our Poverty  
3 Jacob's Dream  
4 From Heaven Above to Earth  
5 Bless the Lord, My Soul  
6 Awake, My Heart  
7 Orthodox Vespers  
8 Do the Birds Worry?  
9 Lord, I Cry unto Thee  
10 He, Who Lets God Prevail  
11 By the Rivers of Babylon  
12 The Last Dance  
13 Machaut: O Jesus, Thy Pain  
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Vox Clamantis, under the direction of Jaan-Eik Tulve, has established itself as Estonia's foremost small vocal ensemble, at home in the worlds of both old and new music. Their ECM New Series discography, accordingly, has ranged from Gregorian chant and Perotin (as on Filia Sion) to present-day composers including Arvo Pärt (The Deer's Cry), Erkki-Sven Tüür (Oxymoron) and Helena Tulve (Arboles lloran por lluvia). On The Suspended Harp of Babel Vox Clamantis turns its attention to Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962), whose work also took nourishment from ancient sources as well as from contemporaneous musical currents.

One of the innovators of choral music in Estonia, Kreek drew extensively upon folk music and was a pioneer in the documentation of it, recording, transcribing and preserving for posterity hundreds of songs, both sacred and secular. His arrangements of these folk songs and folk hymns, as well as his settings of psalms, provided a bedrock for choirs in an idiom of his own, described by Paul Griffiths in the liner notes here as "restrained and yet glowing."

Cyrillus Kreek, born in the village of Saanika, was a contemporary of Arvo Pärt's teacher Heino Eller, and both studied at the St Petersburg Conservatory in the years before the First World War. Kreek's music, emphasizing simplicity, clarity, and the natural quality of the human voice, influenced many composers in Estonia including Veljo Tormis (who also creatively deployed folk song in choral contexts) and Tõnu Kõrvits. The quietly radiant aura of his work is enhanced on the present recording by the contributions of Marco and Angela Ambrosini playing nyckelharpa and by Anna-Liisa Eller on kannel, the Estonian zither.

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