Tormis: Vision of Kalevala

Album review
Tormis: Vision of Kalevala


Vision of Kalevala

Label: Alba
Media: CD
Genre: Classical

Veljo Tormis, born in 1930, is one of the best of the many great Estonian choral composers. This disc collects five pieces, the first of which is a half-hour setting of the Seventeenth Canto from the Kalevala, the Finnish epic. Kantele (Finnish zither), shaman drums, buzz-disk, anvils, and log drums accompany the choir; the music is effective, primal, often spooky, but very tonal. The Canto is mostly in an insistent 5/4, building and building, with some spoken dialogue. Harmonies are broadly painted, not subtle, but Tormis draws you in with brute force and an amazing sense of drama. Curse upon Iron is the most powerful piece here: the lower voices begin by chanting over a log drum, changing tone and vowels and sounding like a human didgeridoo. An old wise man sings in a clenched, deranged Gollum-like voice, pronouncing a curse on iron for the weapons formed from it. Tormis’ Closing Words is the last work here, and a perfect final statement: the singer has sung his piece, and reflects on his life and songs with reserve and dignity. Recorded sound is terrific—this would be a great, unusual sonic showcase. Texts and translations are included. 

More Info

  • composer, Tormis
  • primary artist, Estonian National Male Choir
  • CD

Search Music

Featured Music