This concert programme first reached listeners in 2016, when former classmates soprano Inga Kalna and pianist Diana Ketler performed a selection of songs by Richard Strauss and Latvian composers Jānis Mediņš and Alfrēds Kalniņš at the Dzintari Concert Hall in Jūrmala as part of the Autumn Chamber Music Festival. The concert received the Latvian Grand Music Award in 2016 for best chamber music performance. In nominating the two musicians, the organisers of this award stated: “At the Dzintari Concert Hall the audience listened to a completely new and surprisingly fresh interpretation of the wellknown vocal music by Alfrēds Kalniņš and Jānis Mediņš and perceived the lesser known music by Richard Strauss as close and familiar. Inga Kalna and Diana Ketler revealed themselves as a fantastically united duo but at the same time individually vivid artists. With her warm, lyrical tone and experience at several of the best opera houses in the world, the Hamburg-based freelance artist and her long-time chamber music partner, the sensitive pianist and London Royal Academy of Music professor, gave the audience a wonderful musical experience with a pleasant and enduring aftertaste.”
In an interview before the concert with Latvian Radio 3 “Klasika” and the “Diena” newspaper, Kalna described the programme as “musical Art Nouveau about the theme of love with extremely poetic imagery. Lots and lots of nature: evening, morning, sunny daytime, night. Autumn leaves and the groaning sea, moonlit waters and a summer evening’s breeze. Of course, there are lots of flowers characteristic of Art Nouveau: roses, water lilies, ivy. It has love poetry in all of its aspects: general, sensual and even religious. Love for nature and one’s homeland. Love for one another, for the seasons and for the whole world embracing us. Lots of melancholy longing. Everything we imagine when we hear the word ‘love’ is included in this programme! I think this is an elegant programme, stylistically presented in a unified palette of colour. Here, the national and international are entwined. This aspect of music fascinates me tremendously – how what is unique to each nation is preserved, yet at the same time it addresses a very broad range of people, and everyone can find
something of themselves in it. [..] Richard Strauss is very operatic and very intellectual. He is operatic in his largesse. His music is vivid: generous texture, rich harmonies, extremely broad phrases, an understanding of all the instruments. For singers, this music demands an unusual amount of breath control and absolute, 100% conviction. Strauss’ music is like an opera house with its wine-red seats and darkred curtain with a golden fringe – lavish, velvety, golden, lustrous, rich and intellectual. But I also very much like the music written by the Latvian masters Jānis Mediņš and Alfrēds Kalniņš. For example, Mediņš immediately makes me think of Art Nouveau. I see Albert street and Riga’s Art Nouveau buildings.”
In "Das Rosenband", Latvian soprano Inga Kalna, in her debut solo album, and pianist Diana Ketler occupy similar late-Romantic terrain: familiar songs by Richard Strauss paired with novelties by two admired Latvians, Alfrēds Kalniņš (1879-1951) and Jānis Mediņš (1890-1966). Accomplished and atmospheric.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆