This album is a result of several years of research by Latvian Radio Choir’s chief conductor Sigvards Klava and musicologist Agnese Paunia that has yielded a brand new sheet music edition and publication of complete choral music by Latvian composer Janis Zalits (1884-1943) and this world premiere recording of all 44 of his works for choir, performed by the Latvian Radio Choir.
In 1913 Jazeps Vitols, the forefather of Latvian classical music, wrote: “In Janis Zalits’ songs, the effort to use all means of modern harmony culminates in undeniable success. They capture the audience with their freshness, unobtrusive illustration and vibrant colour. Janis Zalits is the freshest and most mischievous among our composers, and not only among the younger generation.”
Janis Zalits, a courageous innovator, strived for a breath of the contemporary in music, and this challenged many of his contemporaries to re-examine ingrained opinions and often also choir singers and conductors to radically step out of their comfort zones. In fascination with the new sounds of French impressionism, he has produced perhaps only a capella choral compositions that truly utilize the complexity of harmony and form of this style.
”My songs have one big fault: they are only any good when performed very well; otherwise they’re worthless. And it is said that even quite capable musicians have a hard time getting a feel for them,” contemplated Janis Zalits. Perhaps this is the reason we can only appreciate these works today, sung by one of the world’s leading choirs - Latvian Radio Choir.