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Ockeghem & Estonian Sacred Music



Ockeghem – Salve Regina;  Ave Maria;  Credo (Missa Sine Nomine);  Sanctus & Agnus Dei (Missa Cuiusvis Toni)

Estonian Sacred Folksongs – Matanan Sind;  Mu suda Arka Ules;  Rahva Onnistegija;  Oh Jeesus, Sine Valu;  Oh Jumal Looja Puha Vaim;  Mu Mano Tilge Latse

Estonian Pre-Christian Folksong – Loomiselaul

Gregorian Chant – Veni Creator Spiritus


K & K Verllaganstalt  – KuK 21

Recorded June 2005 – 1 CD – 60 minutes


Heinavanker, (which translates literally as “Haywain”) is a group of six young Estonian singers who joined forces in 1988 to explore and perform early religious choral works.   This collection, which mix together very satisfactorily, covers a period from pre-Christian times (Christianity came to Estonia circa 1227) to the 16th century.


Johannes Ockeghem was himself a singer of note and his music is notoriously difficult, contrapuntal, with very tricky intervals.    The five pieces included within this live concert, a representative selection, include two extracts from his catholicon, the Missa Cuisvis Toni – ie to be sung in the mode of your choice.


Interspersed between them are the Estonian Sacred Folksongs – hymns in Lutheran tradition as used for worship in rural areas of the country.  The geographical spread is quite wide stretching from the island of Hiiumaa to the province of Vormsi.  In one or two there is a noticeably twangy entonation – perhaps a local accent or dialect.  One of these is a Whitsuntide hymn, Oh Jumal Looja Puha Vaim, and verses of this are first alternated with the Gregorian Chant of the great Pentecostal hymn Veni Creator, and then the two styles are blended – it’s very skillfully done and a highlight of the collection.


The centre piece, from which the anthology is named Loomiselaul, is an extraordinary Runic folk song recounting a legendary version of the creation in which a bird lays eggs which turn into sun, moon, stars and a rainbow.   It comes from a tradition which may date back thousands of years, and certainly has a timeless quality.  It starts very slowly and quietly with the deeper voices setting up drone which has the effect of an echo, and gradually becomes faster and more insistent.


This, and the folksongs are the sort of unfamiliar works that makes the listener long for texts, translations, or at least detailed comment.   Sadly the booklet notes are distinctly unforthcoming.  However, the singing is exemplary throughout, and it is a highly interesting and unusual collection. 


Serena Fenwick


[See also http://musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/OckeghemnEstonian_sacred.htmhttp://musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/OckeghemnEstonian_sacred.htm