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VIKTORS BASTIKS - Requiem - Christmas Cantata - Latvian Folk Songs - Andrejs Jansons (Conductor) - Latvian National Opera Orchestra - Various Latvian Choirs - Albany 1197

What strikes you right away on first hearing this CD is the honest simplicity behind the music. These choral works were not written for effect or to impress, but rather composed to draw your attention to the sacred text upon which they are based. And in that straightforward simplicity lies the impact. A perfect example of this is the simple melodic line a solo trumpet plays to open the Requiem. It immediately sets the tone for the whole work and is extremely effective in its plain utterance. The music of Viktors Bastiks (1912-2001) is like that. Honest, unpretentious and faithful to its roots. The Christmas Cantata for example emits a simple childlike joy. There is no need for loud declamations and bombastic or showy swordplay. The natural and real emotions within the writing are enough to carry the music along.

The numerous people involved in this recording, the Youth Choir "Balsis", Latvian Academy of Music Mixed Choir, New York Latvian Concert Choir, Latvian National Opera Chamber Orchestra, Andrejs Jansons, and all the solo singers and people behind the scenes, have all done a wonderful job in bringing forward and recreating the spirit within this Latvian composer's work. The fine recording always captures the immediacy of the voices, with a perfect forward balance in relation to the orchestral forces. Even though this project was, in more ways than one, a co-operative effort, the end result is an impressive example of the advantages of working together to achieve the same goal.

Jean-Yves Duperron