Mägi: Orchestral Music
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Ester Mägi: Orchestral Music

Catalogue Number: TOCC0054
EAN: 5060113440549
Release Date: 26 June 2007
Duration: 63:51

Editor’s choice – Gramophone

Vesper
Piano Concerto
Bukoolika
Variations for Piano, Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra
Symphony

Ada Kuuseoks, piano
Mati Mikalai, piano
Tarmo Pajusaar, clarinet
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Arvo Volmer, conductor
Mihkel Kütson, conductor

In her native country Ester Mägi (b. 1922) is known as ‘the First Lady of Estonian music’. A much-loved figure at home, Mägi is now beginning to enjoy a reputation further afield, where her incorporation of elements of Estonian folk-music into classical forms is being recognised as a fresh and original contribution to European art-music.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
DOWNLOAD COMPLETE ALBUM 63:51
1 Vesper (1990, arr. 1998)

Ester Mägi, composer
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Arvo Volmer, conductor

(recorded live)
6:58 play
2-4 Piano Concerto (1953)

Ester Mägi, composer
Ada Kuuseoks, piano
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Arvo Volmer, conductor
22:44
2 I. Allegro moderato 10:27 play
3 II. Andante sostenuto 6:09 play
4 III. Allegro 6:08 play
5 Bukoolika (1983)

Ester Mägi, composer
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Arvo Volmer, conductor

(recorded live)
8:17 play
6 Variations for Piano, Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra (1972)

Ester Mägi, composer
Mati Mikalai, piano
Tarmo Pajusaar, clarinet
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Mihkel Kütson, conductor
12:22 play
7-9 Symphony (1968)

Ester Mägi, composer
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Mihkel Kütson, conductor

(recorded live)
13:30
7 I. Allegro assai 2:30 play
8 II. Andante 5:10 play
9 III. Presto 5:50 play

Artists

Ester Mägi

Ester Mägi, composer

Ada Kuuseoks

Ada Kuuseoks, piano

Mati Mikalai

Mati Mikalai, piano

Tarmo Pajusaar

Tarmo Pajusaar, clarinet

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, orchestra

Arvo Volmer

Arvo Volmer, conductor
[credit: Kai Tirkonen]

Mihkel Kütson

Mihkel Kütson, conductor

Reviews

An Independent Voice

Patric Standford Music & Vision 7th February 2008

Now 85 years old, Ester Mägi is one of Estonia's leading composers yet sadly little of her work has become widely known outside her homeland, Germany and the Nordic countries, where she has an established folowing. Sidelined by the onslaught of Modernism in the 1960s, Mägi's distinctive brand of folksong-oriented post-Nationalism can be savoured to the full in the three-movement piano concerto, which although composed in 1953 could almost have been comosed 100 years earlier. The Variations (1972) show a significant advance in idion - by then the less acerbic side of Bartók has become part of the stylistic mix. Authoritative performances, glowingly engineered.

International Piano February 2008

I very much enjoyed this CD. I had not heard of Ester Magi before and bought it on the off chance after listening to the excerpts via Amazon. For anyone who is interested in 'Scandinavian' music I would urge them to try this CD. All five works are well played and recorded. I would be interested to hear more of Magi's orchestral works.

Keith Braithwaite Amazon 17th January 2008

The Toccata Classics label seeks out unjustly neglected repertoire and this is ideal territory:

this disc devoted to the music of the Estonian composer Ester Mägi deserves a wide audience. The Soviet occupation of the Baltic States in the post-war years resulted in an artistic oppression not dissimilar to that suffered by Shostakovich and his Russian counterparts, and clearly Mägi was not free to fashion her own style against such strict limitations. There are several wonderful orchestral works here showing the vast range and eclecticism of her compositional language, from a powerfully rhythmic Symphony (1968) to the rich and indulgent string-writing of Vesper (1990/98), performed by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mihkel Kütson. Pianists especially should seek out this release for the Piano Concerto (1953), played by Mati Mikalai, and the Variations for piano, clarinet and chamber orchestra (1972), with clarinettist Tarmo Pajusaar. The former is a wonderfully approachable work, which seems to fuse the language of composers from the Russian school, from Scriabin through to Shostakovich, with a rich vein of post-romantic harmony allied with some modality and clear folk influences in the rhythm. It’s a refreshingly unpretentious work, with bright treble-dominated piano-writing and an energetic and jovial finale which would have satisfied the Soviet censors. The Variations is a much more powerful and original work with a rich variety of textures and figurations, with the piano now treated very much as a percussive instrument. This is fascinating repertoire, beautifully played and recorded, and well worth seeking out.

Nicholas Salwey International Record Review

Ester Mägi (b1922) is a much revered figure in her home country, Estonia, and increasingly recognized abroad. Her music is tonal and influenced by folk traditions (as a student she collected folksongs). Although aware of post-war compositional trends, she has taken what she liked from these without slavishly jumping between bandwagons.

Her Piano Concerto (1953) is a student work, well crafted in a broadly traditional framework (think Grieg meets Shostakovich’s Second), full of attractive melodies and deftly orchestrated. Such a work was expected, of course, while Estonia remained in Stalin’s baleful grip, But Mägi took the opportunity to experiment quietly within on how to develop her material. The Variations (1972), one of her most popular pieces, shows a different approach: wanting to avoid the standard three-movement format, she used variations as the template for this compact double concerto for piano, clarinet and strings. In the purely orchestral Bukoolika (1983), herding songs and birdcalls merge with her own themes to create a delightful and gently individual tone-poem.

The premiere of her Symphony (1968) elicited controversy; was it “possible at all for a woman to write such music”! Harder in tone, the music is driven and forcefully rhythmic, the three movements forming a cogent if unorthodox musical argument. By contrast, the evocative Vesper 1990, rev 1998) looks back to pre-classical sacred music. The performances – recorded between 1992 and 2002 by Estonian Radio – are excellent, their remastering splendidly executed by Raphaele Mouterde. An absolute gem of a disc, strongly recommended.

Guy Rickards Gramophone

Comments

1 comment – add a comment

Today I bought this album (mp3) from ClassicsOnline and have listened some.

Very attractive and easy. As Ester Mägi is our contemporary, but I dare to say it’s not significant whether her music is old or new. Fine music is always fine.

Especially her Piano Concerto is great (performance also). I know the conductor Arvo Volmer is one of the specialists of Sibelius Symphonies, but I think his talent is more active for conducting his native Estonian music.

I hope another music by Baltic female composer, like Lūcija Garūta (Latvian) would be recorded for worldwide – Garūta also composed her beautiful romantic Piano Concerto in 1951 and I love the work very much…

To go back to the subject, Mägi’s Symphony is energetic, rhythmical, and colourful. Should we call her as Estonian Khachaturian? Anyway thank you very much for finest music!

Yasunori Kikuchi 21 June 2013