To the North…January 17, 2023
Great Maestros XX. Scroll Over Beethoven
€8.85 – €13.85
GREAT MAESTROS XX
SCROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
TRIIN RUUBEL − violin
AGE JUURIKAS − piano
ESTONIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor NEEME JÄRVI
℗ ERSO (#1−3), ERR (#4−8)
© 2023 ERSO, ERP
GREAT MAESTROS XX
SCROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
TRIIN RUUBEL − violin
AGE JUURIKAS − piano
ESTONIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor NEEME JÄRVI
Musik ist höhere Offenbarung als alle Weisheit und Philosophie.
|1||Ludwig van Beethoven / Peeter Vähi||Hommage à brillance de Lune||8:18|
|2||Peeter Vähi||Fantasy on a Theme by Beethoven *||8:21|
|3||Elis Hallik||The Firehearted **||8:55|
|Ludwig van Beethoven||Symphony No 4 in B-flat major, Op 60 ***|
|4||I Adagio – Allegro vivace||10:51|
|6||III Scherzo-trio: Allegro vivace||5:57|
|7||IV Allegro ma non troppo||7:38|
|8||Ludwig van Beethoven||Encore: Symphony No 8, II Allegretto scherzando ***||4:28|
* World premiere recording
** Dedicated to Olari Elts and ERSO
*** Live recordings
#2 Peeter Vähi. Fantasy on a Theme by Beethoven, fragment, 2 min 50 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#3 Elis Hallik. The Firehearted, fragment, 3 min 18 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#7 Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No 4, Movement IV, fragment, 3 min 35 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
Performed by: Triin Ruubel (#1), Age Juurikas, piano (#1−2)
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster Arvo Leibur
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Recorded 2015−2019 in Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
Recorded by Kaspar Karner (#1−3) and Tanel Klesment (#4−8)
Mastered by Kaspar Karner
Liner notes by Meeta Morozov
Artworks by Julius Schmid, Anna Litvinova and Heinz Valk
Photos by Krõõt Tarkmeel, Sadu Triste Juurikas and Kaupo Kikkas
Design by Mart Kivisild
℗ ERSO (#1−3), ERR (#4−8)
© 2023 ERSO, ERP
The title of the current album is a paraphrase of Chuck Berry’s hit Roll Over Beethoven which was made yet more famous by The Beatles. Let’s, however, take a trip of two centuries back in time…
„You can’t have any idea what it’s like to hear such a giant marching behind you!“ Johannes Brahms wrote to the German conductor Hermann Levi in 1872, discussing the possibility of composing a symphony. By giant, he obviously meant Ludwig van Beethoven. The influence of the last distinguished representative of Viennese classicism on Western music is indeed unprecedented – to some extent, the works of all 19th century’s symphonists can be seen as a kind of response to what Beethoven did. He was a benchmark and often an insurmountable rival in one that had to be reckoned with. However, the impact of Beethoven extends even further into the 21st century, especially into the year 2020 when the 250th anniversary of the genius’s birth was celebrated. On the current CD, two Estonian composers with different styles enter into a dialogue with Beethoven. As an interesting coincidence, Beethoven’s opuses that inspired them and the main work of the disc, the Fourth symphony, are related – both Leonore overture that influenced Elis Hallik, the piano sonata Appassionata that is partially used in Vähi’s Fantasy on theme by Beethoven, and the Fourth symphony were all in work in the same year, in 1806.
In the reception of Beethoven’s symphonies, the more lyrical even-numbered opuses are often overshadowed by the heroic-dramatic and much-played Third, Fifth and Ninth symphonies. A similar fate has befallen the Fourth symphony, which was preceded by the revolutionary Eroica, the benchmark of the entire 19th century symphony, and followed by the equally popular Fifth one, known as the Fate Symphony. Surrounded by the so-called two giants, the more classical Fourth symphony with more modest proportions has often been viewed only in comparison with the odd-numbered ones, neglecting the independent value and originality of this very meaningful work. It could be said that just as Beethoven used contrasts within the framework of one work, the contrast between successive symphonies is also a sign of his exceptionally versatile perception of the world and his rich arsenal of compositional techniques.
Symphony No 4 in B-flat major, Op 60 was completed in 1806. It was a difficult year for Beethoven in many ways – the premiere of his first and only opera Fidelio was not so successful, and his brother was getting into the relationship that Beethoven was strongly opposed to. However, the aforementioned circumstances were not reflected in the number and quality of the works created during this year. In addition to the Fourth symphony, Beethoven composed a piano and violin concerto, the three „Razumovsky“ Quartets and 32 Variations for piano in C minor. The reason for writing a new symphony arose in late summer, when Beethoven accompanied his patron Prince Lichnowsky on a trip. They stayed at Lichnowsky’s castle at Grätz, in Silesia, and also visited Count Franz von Oppersdorff, who was living only about thirty miles away. It may have been during this visit that Oppersdorf commissioned the Fourth Symphony. The new work was completed very quickly and the Count may have received a score as early as November, having paid 500 florins for six months’ exclusive use. The symphony premiered at a private concert at the town house of Prince Lobkowitz in March 1807, and the first public performance took place at the Burgtheater in Vienna in April 1808.
The Fourth Symphony is predominantly cheerful, sunny and more similar to the music of Beethoven’s predecessors. It is often described as „Haydnesque“, as it bears numerous compositional affinities to Haydn’s „London“ symphonies. Although the symphony is written in traditional four-movement structure, it contains many innovations, for example new approaches to the links between sections. The first movement in sonata form, Allegro vivace, following the slow and somewhat mysterious introduction, has a jubilant and cheering mood, having enough joy to be a last movement rather than the opening one. Nevertheless, the movement also contains dramatic elements which are reflected in contrasting dynamics and an increased use of timpani. The slow second movement is written in rondo form and beautifully interweaves long and song-like melodies with a steady pulsating dotted rhythm in the background. Hector Berlioz, a great admirer of Beethoven, was said to have been so fascinated by the Adagio that he claimed it had to have been written by the Archangel Michael and not by a mere mortal. The third movement is Allegro vivace, which is no longer a traditional minuet, but rather a fast and restless scherzo with a contrasting trio movement. The symphony ends with a witty finale that has been called a perpetuum mobile because of its constantly moving sixteenth notes.
Similar to the Fourth symphony that looked for its place next to Eroica, Beethoven’s Eighth symphony was overshadowed by the Seventh, completed in the same year. After the performance of the work, a critic of the Wiener allgemeine musikalische Zeitung wrote that „the applause which it received was not accompanied by that enthusiasm which distinguishes a work which gives universal delight; in short – as the Italians say – it did not create a furor“. According to Beethoven’s student Carl Czerny, the composer was not satisfied with such reception, as he himself considered the Eighth symphony „so much better“. Symphony No 8 in F major, Op 83 was sketched near the end of 1811 and completed in October of 1812. The main work on the symphony took place in the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz, where Beethoven spent two summers and cured his health. It was also during that time when he wrote his famous letter to the „Immortal Beloved“. The symphony premiered in Vienna in February 1814 at the concert that also included the performance of the Seventh symphony and immensely popular Wellington’s Victory and thus it is not surprising that it was overshadowed by them.
The Eighth symphony is light-hearted, bright and lively, giving an idea of Beethoven’s sense of humor and his ability to write cheerful music even during difficult times in personal life. Remarkably, the symphony lacks the traditional slow and often mournful second movement. Instead, Beethoven writes a witty and rather fast-paced Allegretto scherzando which is also connected with a legend-like story. Namely, it is believed that the ticking rhythm of the wind instruments is related with Beethoven’s friend Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, the inventor of the metronome, with whom the composer had a quarrel and then sought reconciliation through music.
Peeter Vähi entered Estonian art music in the late 1970s, having first played in the pop and jazz-rock bands. From the avant-garde experiments during his conservatory studies and the subsequent neoclassical works, Vähi soon moved on to Oriental music, developing his own distinct style that synthesizes the influences of Eastern and Western cultures. His most important works include cantata Supreme Silence, oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel, African initiation rite In the Mystical Land of Kaydara, flute concerto Chant of Celestial Lake, Mystical Uniting for chamber ensemble and Forty-Two and To the Mother for sinfonietta orchestra. Vähi’s music is characterized by broad-minded stylistic versatility, listener-friendly sound, a wide range of moods and an extensive use of exotic instruments. In addition to oriental influences, his music also contains elements of early music and electronic music and in several works the rock musician’s background can still be felt. Over time, according to musicologist Evi Arujärv, the text message, its ritual presentation and the sonorous and symbolic uniqueness of the musical material have become also more and more important in Vähi’s music.
The first track of the current record Hommage à brillance de Lune is connected to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth on the one hand, and to Vähi’s contemporary, now deceased Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, on the other. Vähi recalls the birth of the work as follows: October 3rd, 2019, just half an hour before midnight mobile rings – Andres Mustonen calling. „Peeter, a man with whom you and I have shared the spiritual world, Giya, has passed away… I know that sometimes you are capable of composing a shorter piece in just a few hours and this is the case now – the day after tomorrow Hortus will hold memorial concerts in Arvo Pärt Centre with the rehearsal already tomorrow (!) at 2 pm. The staff would be violin, piano, trombone and double bass.“
„Let’s light a candle and lower our heads… But, sorry, Andres, I will not be able to create something new for tomorrow. However, as next year will be Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, I have been thinking about a work on the theme from his Moonlight Sonata. I could maybe complete this to commemorate our Georgian friend. I will take a couple of hours tonight to adapt this half-baked idea for Hortus Musicus.“
The next day, the printed sheet music package was in the Hortus Musicus’s rehearsal room, and in the following days, music inspired by Beethoven was played at three concerts in commemoration of Giya Kancheli. Later, the work has been performed in various places both in the setting for oboe and organ as well as in the original version written for Hortus Musicus. The current orchestra version was completed upon Neeme Järvi’s request just before the recording and live performance in August 2022. In this approximately nine-minutes piece, Beethoven’s music plays a very important role, that is why both authors are named on the title page.
Fantasy on a Theme by Beethoven for piano and symphony orchestra is also inspired by Beethoven, but unlike the work based on the Moonlight Sonata, only a few measures of Beethoven are quoted. The fantasy is based on the theme from the first movement of Appassionata. In addition, there are some barely noticeable hints of Sonata Pathétique and the Fifth symphony. Appassionata has influenced Vähi because Beethoven’s piano sonatas sound very orchestral and symphonic to him. According to the composer, in his mind, he sometimes hears different orchestral instruments playing in the sonatas, and that seems like an invitation to arrange something for a symphony orchestra. The orchestral work was commissioned by a German music publisher for Beethoven’s jubilee year but due to the corona pandemic, the work was not performed. The recording of the Fantasy by Age Juurikas, ERSO and Neeme Järvi on the current disc is thus the premiere of the work.
Elis Hallik belongs to the younger generation of Estonian composers, whose works have been performed at prestigious festivals such as IRCAM’s Manifeste, International Summer Academy of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Contemporary Music Festival Afekt and Estonian Music Days. Hallik has studied under Helena Tulve and Toivo Tulev (Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre), also under Michele Tadin, Robert Pascal and Luca Antignani (Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse de Lyon). Her focus is on orchestral and chamber music and her notable works include Impacts for cello and piano, Fluchtpunkt for symphony orchestra and chamber works To Become a Tree and Like a Swan. Hallik’s music is characterized by the consciousness of the present moment and careful observation of the surroundings during which the various facets of silence and noise as well as micro-events in sounds and the musical process receive attention. Several of her works also reflect the natural environment and archetypal forms of life.
The Firehearted was composed amidst the corona pandemic and was premiered in 2021. The work was commissioned by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra for the orchestra’s Beethoven programme, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and is dedicated to ERSO and its chief conductor Olari Elts. The piece draws upon themes from Beethoven’s Leonore overture, the motifs of which can be heard in the strings. A reviewer from the renowned classical music website Bachtrack has described the work as follows: „Beethoven comes in and out of focus, amplified and distorted by rumbling percussion crashes. It’s witty and somewhat disconcerting, as if seeing Beethoven through a magnifying lens, and displays Hallik’s virtuoso orchestral writing at its most dazzling.“
The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) – a vivid and versatile orchestra, always striving towards excellence. The unique position in the intersection of cultures brings together Western, Nordic and Russian musical traditions. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2026, ERSO has become the most prominent musical ambassador of Estonia abroad, powerfully increasing its international scope particularly in recent decades. Since the season 2020/2021, its chief conductor and artistic director is Olari Elts. Neeme Järvi, the longest-serving chief conductor of the ERSO, continues to cooperate with the orchestra as an Honorary Artistic Director for Life, and the artistic adviser of the orchestra is Paavo Järvi. The orchestra performs with renowned conductors and soloists from around the world, including, of course, the most prominent Estonian musicians. ERSO’s CDs demonstrate quality that has been recognised by several renowned music magazines and the orchestra has won several prizes, including a Grammy Award for the recording of cantatas by Sibelius. Its home venue is the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn and it has dazzled the world with numerous tours and participated in reputable international music festivals. They have played in prestigious venues such as the Konzerthaus Berlin, Musikverein in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, Brucknerhaus in Linz, the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, La Seine Musicale in Paris, the Grand Hall of St Petersburg Philharmonia, the Kölner Philharmonie, the Helsinki Music Centre and many more.
Some of the most recent festivals ERSO has attended include the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier with Neeme Järvi and the Eufonie International Festival of Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw under the baton of Olari Elts. In addition to ERP, the orchestra has enjoyed fruitful cooperation with highly acclaimed record companies such as Chandos, BIS and Onyx, in the past also with Alba Records, Harmonia Mundi, and Melodiya. In addition to local radio and television channels, ERSO’s concerts have been broadcasted by Mezzo, medici.tv and they have also reached many radio listeners via the EBU. In 2020, the orchestra launched its own channel – ERSO.TV. Commanding a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque period to the present time, the ERSO has had the honour to premiere symphonic pieces by almost every Estonian composer, including Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Jüri Reinvere, and Eduard Tubin.
The grand man of Estonian music, Maestro Neeme Järvi – a conductor „from God“ – is probably one of the best-known Estonian musicians in the world. It is almost impossible to fully sum up the long and prolific career of one of the most recorded conductors of our time. Neeme Järvi has conducted 157 orchestras, held the position of chief conductor (currently chief conductor emeritus) of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra (currently honorary conductor), music director of Detroit Symphony Orchestra (currently music director emeritus), music director of New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (currently honorary conductor), chief conductor of the Hague Residentie Orkest (currently chief conductor emeritus), music director of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande etc. The considerable increase in the artistic level of these orchestras has greatly been his service, which has earned him the respect and ongoing wish to continue the co-operation by the afore-mentioned orchestras. His discography is likewise impressive. Among others, he has recorded all symphonies by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Strauss, Mahler, Dvořák, Glazunov, Sibelius, Nielsen and Brahms.
Having served as chief conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1979, he took a difficult decision in 1980 and emigrated from the artistically oppressive USSR to the West where he made it his mission to introduce Estonian music to the world. He has conducted works by Rudolf Tobias, Artur Kapp, Heino Eller, Arvo Pärt, Eino Tamberg, Peeter Vähi and other Estonian composers – but first and foremost, by Eduard Tubin with whom he developed close artistic relationship. By today, Neeme Järvi has re-established his contact with the re-independent Estonia. In 2001, Neeme, the head of Järvi „dynasty“ together with his sons, conductors Paavo and Kristjan, initiated the international conducting master classes in Pärnu which by now have grown into the Järvi Academy and Pärnu Music Festival. In 2010, Neeme Järvi was again appointed artistic director and chief conductor of ERSO, being the only conductor who has held this position for two different periods. From the summer of 2020 he continues as its Honorary Artistic Director for Life. In 2018, Maestro Järvi received Gramophone’s Life Achievement Award, and in 2020, the Life Achievement Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Triin Ruubel is a renowned violinist, chamber musician and the concertmaster of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra since 2015. She has performed as a soloist with prominent orchestras in Estonia, Europe and the USA, including Haydn Orchestra Bolzano, Orchestre des Jeunes d’Île-de-France, Philharmonia of the Nations, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonisches Orchester Vorpommern and others. She has also appeared as a guest concertmaster with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. As a chamber musician, Ruubel has collaborated with her sister pianist Kärt Ruubel, pianists Elisabeth Leonskaja, Frank-Immo Zichner and Víkingur Ólafsson and clarinetist Matthew Hunt. An interest in contemporary music led her to become one of the founding members of the Neophon Ensemble in 2011, and to collaborations with composers Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Ruzicka and Jörg Widmann. In 2020, Ruubel’s debut CD with Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto was released (recorded with the ERSO and Neeme Järvi). Triin Ruubel has graduated from Tallinn Music High School as a student of Tiiu Peäske and from Rostock University of Music and Drama as a student of Prof Petru Munteanu. In 2017, she won the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Age Juurikas is a renowned Estonian pianist whose powerful and suggestive style of performance combines European and Russian traditions of piano playing. Juurikas has studied under the guidance of Prof Peep Lassmann and Toivo Nahkur at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and with Prof Vera Gornostajeva at the Moscow Conservatoire. In addition, she has improved her skills at Sibelius Academy with Prof Matti Raekallio and Prof Liisa Pohjola and at the University of Music Karlsruhe with Prof Kalle Randalu. Age Juurikas has performed in all over Europe and North America and collaborated with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and Ukrainian National Academic Symphony Orchestra. Her repertoire consists mainly of music by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Tubin and other composers of the first half of the 20th century. Juurikas is also interested in contemporary music and collaborates with various composers. She has recorded all piano preludes by Mart Saar, numerous piano pieces by Scriabin and Albéniz and Estonian contemporary chamber music to the archives of the Estonian Public Broadcasting. Since 2017, she is an artist of ERP and her debut album The Soul of Fire (2018, ERP) was given the Award of the Chamber Music of the Year.
Age Juurikas has also been honored with several prominent awards such as the first Neeme Järvi Prize (2003) and the annual award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2014).
Download the liner notes in Estonian language (PDF, 6 pages)
Physical CD, Digital copy