Latvian Radio Choir
Riga Saxophone Quartet
Conductor Sigvards Kļava
Francis Poulenc, Bernd Franke, Knut Nystedt, Arvo Part, Johann Sebastian Bach
On the 27th of July, the Latvian Radio Choir alongside the Riga Saxophone Quartet and conductor Sigvards Kļava will open the Musikfest ION in Nuremberg. This festival with a rich history will be held already for the 69th time and, as usual, will pay special attention to a diverse organ programme as well as sacred music from different times and places, this year also shining a spotlight on works speaking of courage, openness and freedom. These themes will also be found in the Latvian artists’ programme, in which Baroque music will come together with the vision of composers from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Alongside the celebrated British national treasure Henry Purcell’s vivid harmony-filled Fantasia upon One Note, Z. 745, we shall hear the contemporary Swedish music legend Sven-David Sandström’s Hear my Prayer, Oh Lord – a piece inspired by the aforementioned prolific baroque master. The 20th century Norwegian classic Knut Nysted has also shown a deep appreciation for the beauty of early music, combining its charm with the sonic capabilities of his time, showcased by his composition Immortal Bach in which he references the Baroque master’s carol, which, in turn, has been placed alongside another Bach’s work – the canon BWV 1073 or Canon perpetuus, sung out by a saxophone quartet.
As he was writing the impressive opus On the Dignity of Man 15 years ago, the German artist and professor at the Leipzig Music University Bernd Franke was inspired by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s 1487 work Oratio de dignitate et excellentia hominis. This important Italian philosophical treatise is often called the Renaissance manifesto. In it, the All-Powerful Creator God, often referred to in the work as the Architect, speaks to Adam – the father of all humanity (“I have placed you at the world's centre so that you may thence more easily look around at whatever is in the world. We have made you neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that you may, as the free and extraordinary shaper of yourself, fashion yourself in the form you prefer. It will be in your power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish; you shall have the power, according to your soul's judgement, to be reborn into the higher orders, which are divine.”)
Francis Poulenc’s cantata Figure humaine has also been based on an outstanding literary source – multiple excellent poems by Paul Éluard. This deeply moving choir masterpiece, written during WWII, closes with a very important word: liberté – freedom.
The 1988 score Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen is based on seven antiphons from the Old Testament that in the Catholic liturgy are performed seven days before Christmas, highlighting a different prophecy about Jesus Christ every night. The author of the opus is LRC’s beloved Estonian master Arvo Pärt whose sonic language is one of otherworldly peace and bare simplicity, transparency and cathartic silence.