On Friday, the 11th of October at 19:00 at the Riga St. John’s church the Latvian Radio Choir and conductor Kaspars Putniņš will perform a new programme The Present One. The main thematic axis of the programme will be the prayer Ave Maria that has inspired such 19th century greats as Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms and continues to be reborn in the works of contemporary composers: for this programme, Maija Einfelde and Andris Dzenītis’s interpretations of Ave Maria has been chosen. The concert also features organist Ilze Reine who will perform Rihards Dubra’s meditation for organ The Touch of Our Lady's Sight, written two decades ago
For many years, the concert cycle Sacred Chants has been an important and influential platform for the Latvian Radio Choir; it has showcased numerous musical masterpieces.
In the new programme, the Latvian Radio Choir continues to perform outstanding and noteworthy sacred choral compositions. The organist and friend of the choir Ilze Reine will also join the concert.
“The evening will be centred on the music of Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn – a core part of the genre canon. Both masters excelled in their choral compositions, were well-versed in the works of Bach and other greats, and through their deep understanding of sound, unique musical language, and openly emotional attitude towards the texts, they opened up new horizons for the choir as an instrument. The main guests of the programme for Brahms and Mendelssohn to converse with will be the choir’s friends and collaborators – composers Maija Einfelde and Andris Dzenītis. The main thematic axis of the concert will be the standard text of Ave Maria. It will be performed four times, dressed in the radically different versions by all four composers.” explains Kaspars Putniņš
The oldest piece in the programme is Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s 1830 composition Ave Maria, in which the Romantic period master respectfully references the magnificent Baroque polyphony traditions by skillfully joining solo episodes with a lush choral polyphony. The piece is complemented by the 1844 sonic interpretation of Psalm 22 - Mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen (My God, why hast thou forsaken me?)
Two of the three selected pieces by Johannes Brahms – both the 1856 Geistliches Lied (Sacred Song) for choir and organ (or piano) with verses by the German poet Paul Fleming, and the women’s choir and orchestra (or piano) piece Ave Maria that was written two years later are among the composer’s early works. The Two Motets op. 74 for mixed chorus were composed 20 years later and feature Bible verses translated by Martin Luther, and the great reformer’s choral texts.
Describing the Latvian music included in the concert programme, Kaspars Putniņš says this: “Maija Einfelde has collaborated with the Latvian Radio Choir on many noteworthy, innovative pieces, but I must agree with the critic who once said that due to her grand personality and delicate soul, Maija Einfelde is more of a 19th century soul. I’ve always felt that the composer’s music goes great with the compositions of the Great Masters of the 19th century. Interestingly, Einfelde frequently creates multiple versions and edits of her compositions: for example, three of her opuses bear the name of Ave Maria – a 1994 composition for organ, a 1995 piece for women’s choir and organ, and three years later – a version for mixed choir and organ. 1998 was also the year of the then only twenty-year-old Andris Dzenītis writing his choir piece Ave Maria. “Andris Dzenītis’ music has been chosen as the counterpoint and contrast piece – the fragmented worldview of the modern man, and harsh, unanswered questions,” adds the conductor.
A unique take on the theme of Ave Maria can also be found in Rihards Dubra’s meditation for organ The Touch of Our Lady's Sight, written twenty years ago. Although his signature musical style has been influenced by minimalism, Renaissance and Gregorian music, Dubra can also be described as being a somewhat of a Romantic in his means of expression.