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Flowering Jasmine. Liepāja Symphony Orchestra


Liepāja Symphony Orchestra
Guntis Kuzma - conductor


Latvian composers



Release date



Jānis Ivanovs

"Varavīksne" ("Rainbow"), symphonic sketch

Alfrēds Kalniņš

"Pie Staburaga"

Georgs Pelēcis

"Flowering Jasmine"

Jānis Porietis

"Rīts" ("Morning")

Jānis Ķepītis

"Liriska balāde" / "Lyrical Ballad"

Ādolfs Ābele

"Meditācija" ("Vientulībā") / "Meditation" ("In Solitude")

Agris Engelmanis

"Zīmējums sēpijas tonī" / "Illustration in Sepia"

Ēriks Ešenvalds

Noktirne (Nocturne)


LMIC 127

The nine selected works are united by the presence of Latvian nature. Nature was the impulse that drove me to select this music, and rural Latvia constitutes my feeling of a peaceful home. It goes without saying that our meadows are the most vivid, our sun the warmest and our seaside trees the most stately. As I studied the scores of these nine miniatures, I had no difficulty imagining how the sun rises in Porietis’ “Morning” or where Ivanovs’ “Rainbow” shimmers. The tempi and phrasing were largely dictated by what I have experienced in the Latvian landscape, but it is important to note that, in this case, music is not an illustration of specific places or phenomena but rather a bridge to our relationship with the world.
These nine miniatures span an entire century of Latvian music, from early national romanticism to 21st-century post-romanticism. Our music contains fewer modernist elements, and in this album I have consciously chosen to focus on a romantic feeling of the world. For the sake of variety, I selected music written for a larger orchestra as well as music written for only strings. Most of these compositions are being released on CD for the first time. The Liepāja Symphony Orchestra plans to continue recording compilations such as this. There is much great yet still unrecorded and unreleased Latvian symphonic music and no shortage of themes: the sea, the city, dance, cinema, literature and on and on. We have many ideas, and we are delighted to have the listener join us on these sonic adventures.

Guntis Kuzma



Here’s a century’s worth of Latvian orchestral music, from Ābele to Skulte, and 1906 to 2007. Listen blind and you’ll have a hard job placing some of these nine pieces chronologically. Conductor Guntis Kuzma explains in his foreword that “our music contains fewer modernist elements…” and the 1987 Overture by Ādolfs Skulte could have been written four decades earlier. It’s appealing, colourful stuff, though, and reading that the composer “was able to repair any household appliance” makes you like him even more. The biographical sleeve notes are as entertaining as the music. Jānis Kepītis, whose Lyrical Ballad dates, improbably, from 1984, excelled at crosswords and beekeeping. Ādolfs Ābele “seemed to glide rather than walk,” leaving behind a trail of ash and cigarette smoke. His 1924 Meditation (In Solitude) is a gem, a ripe, bittersweet eruption of colour.

Jānis Ivanovs, several of whose 21 symphonies have been released on the Skani label, is a significant figure in 20th century music. Rainbows, from 1939, is a lushly orchestrated tone poem reflecting the composer’s chromesthesia. Agriscience Engelmanis, a one-time pilot who could have been a Soviet cosmonaut, contributes an evocative, occasionally pungent Illustration in Sepia. There’s so much to love here, Kuzma drawing refined playing from an audibly enthused Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. Skani’s sound is warm and rich, and the aforementioned booklet notes include links to further information contained on the Latvian Music Information Centre’s website. Nice sleeve art too.

Graham Rickson
www.theartsdesk.com 30/07/2022