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Portland State University Chamber Choir|Ēriks Ešenvalds: The Doors of Heaven

Ēriks Ešenvalds: The Doors of Heaven

Ethan Sperry, Portland State University Chamber Choir

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If you dipped into the music at random, you might guess that Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds shares the minimalist style of many of his Baltic contemporaries. There are sparse, limpid passages, but elsewhere he is lush, with dense multipart textures that push the limits of tonality. Esenvalds deploys various languages in the service of texts that he, with some effort, devises himself: the final Passion and Resurrection here is not a setting of a preexisting religious text, but consists, somewhat in the manner of John Rutter, of texts assembled from various sources by the composer himself. All the variations in musical language are deployed in the service of the texts, which may be quite unusual. Some may feel that Esenvalds' method works better in smaller works, where the unusual quality of his text selection is vividly illustrated, than in the Passion setting. For this, the first recording of the composer's works in North America (it's indicative of his success that the album has been commercially successful in Britain as well), the performers choose a work with North American material: a Navajo origin story, condensed by Esenvalds himself. Both this and the Sami-inspired Rivers of Light consist mostly of prose, but Esenvalds' musical language is so flexible that the effect is highly poetic. Sample Rivers of Light, whose text also gives the album its Doors of Heaven title. The X factor here is the strong, enthusiastic performance by the Portland State Chamber Choir and soloists, with instruments, under conductor Ethan Sperry, who has won praise locally for adventurous programming. The student singers respond by punching above their weight vocally, and this is surely an ensemble to watch on the U.S. West Coast. The sound, recorded at Portland's St. Stephen's Catholic Church, is not quite equal to the extremely quiet opening of Rivers of Light, but the effect comes through.
© TiVo

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Ēriks Ešenvalds: The Doors of Heaven

Portland State University Chamber Choir

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The First Tears (Ēriks Ešenvalds)

1
The First Tears
Portland State University Chamber Choir
00:14:08

Unknown Artist, Artist - Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Jeff Evans, Artist - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir, MainArtist - Kenan Koenig, Artist - Max Kolpin, Artist - Erick Lichte, Artist - Emmalyn Fox, Artist - John Atkinson, Engineer - Doug Tourtelot, Engineer

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

Rivers of Light (Live) (Ēriks Ešenvalds)

2
Rivers of Light
Emmalyn Fox
00:06:26

Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - Emmalyn Fox, Artist, MainArtist - John Atkinson, Engineer - Doug Tourtelot, Engineer - Sterling Roberts, Artist - Shankar Viswanathan, Artist

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

A Drop in the Ocean (Ēriks Ešenvalds)

3
A Drop in the Ocean
Rebecca Yakos
00:07:51

Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - John Atkinson, Engineer - Doug Tourtelot, Engineer - Rebecca Yakos, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

Passion and Resurrection (Ēriks Ešenvalds)

4
Part I
Hannah Consenz
00:09:33

Unknown Artist, Artist - Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - John Atkinson, Engineer - Doug Tourtelot, Engineer - Hannah Consenz, Artist, MainArtist - Portland State University String Ensemble, Ensemble

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

5
Part II
Hannah Consenz
00:05:13

Unknown Artist, Artist - Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - Hannah Consenz, Artist, MainArtist - Portland State University String Ensemble, Ensemble

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

6
Part III
Hannah Consenz
00:07:16

Unknown Artist, Artist - Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - Hannah Consenz, Artist, MainArtist - Portland State University String Ensemble, Ensemble

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

7
Part IV
Hannah Consenz
00:08:05

Unknown Artist, Artist - Eriks Esenvalds, Composer - Ethan Sperry, Conductor - Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir - Hannah Consenz, Artist, MainArtist - Portland State University String Ensemble, Ensemble

(C) 2017 Naxos (P) 2017 Naxos

Album Description

If you dipped into the music at random, you might guess that Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds shares the minimalist style of many of his Baltic contemporaries. There are sparse, limpid passages, but elsewhere he is lush, with dense multipart textures that push the limits of tonality. Esenvalds deploys various languages in the service of texts that he, with some effort, devises himself: the final Passion and Resurrection here is not a setting of a preexisting religious text, but consists, somewhat in the manner of John Rutter, of texts assembled from various sources by the composer himself. All the variations in musical language are deployed in the service of the texts, which may be quite unusual. Some may feel that Esenvalds' method works better in smaller works, where the unusual quality of his text selection is vividly illustrated, than in the Passion setting. For this, the first recording of the composer's works in North America (it's indicative of his success that the album has been commercially successful in Britain as well), the performers choose a work with North American material: a Navajo origin story, condensed by Esenvalds himself. Both this and the Sami-inspired Rivers of Light consist mostly of prose, but Esenvalds' musical language is so flexible that the effect is highly poetic. Sample Rivers of Light, whose text also gives the album its Doors of Heaven title. The X factor here is the strong, enthusiastic performance by the Portland State Chamber Choir and soloists, with instruments, under conductor Ethan Sperry, who has won praise locally for adventurous programming. The student singers respond by punching above their weight vocally, and this is surely an ensemble to watch on the U.S. West Coast. The sound, recorded at Portland's St. Stephen's Catholic Church, is not quite equal to the extremely quiet opening of Rivers of Light, but the effect comes through.
© TiVo

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