From Latvian label SKANi, new album Mūžība (Eternity) features the award-winning Latvian Radio Choir performing previously unreleased works from the late Pēteris Plakidis: one of the country’s most significant composers.
Pēteris Plakidis (1947-2017) had a varied and acclaimed international career. He was the music director of the National Theatre, a professor in the Composition Department at the Latvian Academy of Music, and an accompanist for his wife, the notable Latvian opera and chamber singer Maija Krīgena. He was also part of The Transatlantic Trio with cellist Ivars Bezprozvanovs and clarinettist Eric Mandat (USA), giving concerts in Latvia, the UK and the USA. As a concert pianist, Plakidis worked with many Latvian performers of different generations. He wrote for the Song Festival stage and for a host of choirs (both male and female).
Recorded by the Latvian Radio Choir earlier this year in Riga, this is the first full choral music album featuring the work of Plakidis. It offers new and varied interpretations of existing works, as well as 16 pieces of previously unreleased music.
Plakidis’ musical expression was extremely diverse, as highlighted in this latest release. Initially an instrumentalist, creating everything from miniatures to ambitious voluminous works, he then moved towards chamber music. The compositions here put music to Latvian folk texts by prominent authors and poets such as Vizma Belševica, Jānis Peters, Knuts Skujenieks, Zinaīda Lazda and others.
The album includes the newly discovered piece, Izkapts ābelē / Scythe in the Apple Tree (Māris Čaklais, 1968), which lay in Plakidis’ drawer for many years. It’s not known when he composed it.
There are also several small cycles, including Fatamorgāna / Fata Morgana (Jānis Rainis, 1980) and Div’ buramdziesmas / Two Magic Songs (Jānis Peters, 1980).
Themes of life and death feature throughout the album, such as the opening track Teiksma / Legend (Jānis Rainis, 1988), whose text is from the prologue to the drama Fire and Night by Jānis Rainis, and the small requiem In memoriam (Broņislava Martuževa, 1990).
Thoughts and songs about home are prominent, particularly in tracks such as Kurzemes krasts, Vidzemes krasts / Coast of Kurzeme, Coast of Vidzeme (Vitauts Ļūdēns) and the title track Mūžība / Eternity (Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš, 1988) – the latter rooted deeply in folk motifs, evoking grandeur with its classical choral arrangement. The final track, Tavas saknes tavā zemē / Your Roots in Your Land (Vizma Belševica, 1970), embodies the characteristic stylistic elements found in many of Plakidis’ choir songs, with the restless twining of diatonic lines against a foundation of longer background voices.
The album is brought to life by The Latvian Radio Choir: a unique, award-winning ensemble of professional singers that offer audiences an extraordinary variety of repertoire, ranging from early music to the most sophisticated scores of contemporary compositions. As a result of the focused efforts of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Sigvards Kļava, the Latvian Radio Choir has become an internationally recognised, vocally distinctive music group.
Mūžība (Eternity) will be released (CD and download) on 3rd September 2021