Great Maestros XX Scroll Over Beethoven
December 18, 2022

Cyrillus Kreek SACRED FOLK TUNES
Jaak Sooäär (electric guitar), Collegium Musicale & conductor Endrik Üksvärav

Will be released soon. Next live: June 22, 2023 in Triigi Philharmonic, Saaremaa island, Estonia

Vaimulikud rahvaviisid, vihik I / Sacred Folk Tunes for Mixed Choir, 1st Book
1 Kas on linnukesel muret / When a Bird on the Branches Caresses  2:09
2 Mu süda, ärka üles / Awake My Heart and Sing  3:02
3 Kui Jeesust risti naelati / When on the Cross the Saviour Hung  1:42
4 Armas Jeesus, Sind ma palun / Dear Jesus, I Pray to You  2:33
5 Oh kui õndsad on need pühad taevas / Oh How Blest Are Ye Beyond Our Telling  3:08
6 Ma tulen taevast ülevelt / From Heav’n Above to Earth I Come  3:15
7 Nüüd on see päev ju lõppenud / Now that the Sun Doth Shine No More  1:34
8 Ma laulan suust ja südamest / O Lord, I Sing with Mouth and Heart  1:21
9 “Ärgake!” nii vahid hüüdvad / Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying  1:46
10 Kui suur on meie vaesus / Whilst Great Is Our Penury  3:13
Vaimulikud rahvaviisid, vihik II / Sacred Folk Tunes for Mixed Choir, 2nd Book
11 Kuis pean vastu võtma / Ah! Lord, How Shall I Meet Thee  1:42
12 Ma tahan jätta maha / Farewell I Gladly Bid Thee  1:45
13 Oh taganege minu himud / Oh, May My Desires Thus Recede  2:35
14 Jeesus kõige ülem hää / Jesus Is the Best of All Good Things  2:11
15 Oh kui õndsad on need pühad taevas / Oh How Blest Are Ye Beyond Our Telling  2:55
16 Kes Jumalat nii laseb teha / If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee  4:04
17 Ma kiitlen ükspäinis neist verisist haavust / I Alone Boast About These Bloody Wounds  4:20
18 Ma tulen taevast ülevelt / From Heav’n Above to Earth I Come 4:50

#2, Awake My Heart and Sing, 3 min 2 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

#15,  Oh How Blest Are Ye Beyond Our Telling, 2 min 55 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

Recorded on November 22nd–24th, 2019 in St Jacob’s Church, Viimsi, Estonia
Engineered and mastered by Tanel Klesment
Lyrics translated by Francis Browne (#1, 2), Catherine Winkworth (#3, 5–9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18), Kaja Kappel (#4, 10, 14), Pirjo Jonas (#13, 17)
Liner notes compiled by Hele-Mai Poobus
Liner notes translated by Pirjo Jonas
Photos by Teet Raik
Design by Mart Kivisild
Artistic producer – Peeter Vähi

Download lyrics in Estonian and English

Special thanks: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Haapsalu ja Läänemaa Muuseumid, Kristel Üksvärav


Cyrillus Kreek (1889–1962) was born in Lääne County, Estonia, into a music-loving family. When his family converted to the Russian Orthodox faith, young Karl Ustav was renamed Kirill. Years later, the composer adopted its Greek counterpart Κύριλλος as his name and this is how he is known in the Estonian cultural history. He started his musical studies at the parish school of St Nicholas Church in Haapsalu, and in 1908 enrolled at the St Petersburg Conservatoire where he initially studied trombone, and later also composition and music theory. Due to the outbreak of war, his studies at the conservatoire remained unfinished but this was where he became close friends with composer Peeter Süda.
Though primarily a composer, over the course of almost 50 years Kreek was active on a number of fronts – he conducted various choirs and orchestras, taught music in schools and at the music conservatory in Tallinn, arranged concerts and participated actively in the work of music organisations. The bulk of Kreek’s life consisted of collecting and studying Estonian folk music, an activity which he took up as a student at the St Petersburg Conservatoire.
Chorale melodies influenced by folk music started to be written down at the beginning of the 20th century. This endeavour initiated by the Estonian Students’ Society was led by the Estonian diplomat and linguist Oskar Kallas. Many enthusiasts collected folk music at his instruction, among them a number of future Estonian composers such as Miina Härma, Mart Saar, Peeter Süda, and Juhan Aavik. In 1911, they were joined by Cyrillus Kreek who collected music mainly in his home region, Lääne County. He also visited the Noarootsi Parish and the Estonian Swedes of Vormsi island, and he was often accompanied by Mart Saar and Johannes Muda-Helila. It might safely be said that Kreek was one of the most avid collectors of folk tunes and the first to record them with a phonograph.
There are three main sources of inspiration in Cyrillus Kreek’s prolific output – folk tunes, the Lutheran chorale and Russian Orthodox music. Working with various types and forms of music highlighted Kreek’s creative fantasy. He drew mostly on folk music, as over 700 of his choral works were inspired by secular and religious folk songs, instrumental pieces and chorales. Kreek’s creative periods may also be divided into three. During the first period, he focused on experimenting with sounds and composition techniques – the music he produced seemed innovative and fresh. The most important landmarks in this period are A Winter Night (1915), Psalms of David (1923) and his magnum opus, the first requiem in the Estonian language (1927). During this period he also produced two notebooks full of religious folk songs. These chorales were an impetus for composing his technically demanding choral works from 1916 to 1920.
Kreek was a choral composer whose approach mainly proceeded from the voice – he was intimately familiar with the opportunities, specifics and capabilities of a choir. His works are characterised by a strict form, masterful counterpoint technique and clear layers of the consonant fabric of his music. It also displays surprisingly rich harmonies combined with a reserved Nordic style that is balanced and sometimes even ascetic.
For Cyrillus Kreek’s music to reach a wider audience has been a long journey. During his lifetime, his compositions were performed seldom due to the complexity of his pieces and unfortunate historical events. His work rose to new prominence around the 100th anniversary of his birth, when religious music could be performed freely again on Estonian soil.
Kreek’s music is somewhat mysterious and timeless, touching every listener regardless of their mother tongue or nationality. Over time, the impact of his oeuvre – its meaning and importance – has been growing steadily. Paraphrasing Anneli Unt, the author of the foreword to Kreek’s score Religious Folk Songs: the religious folk song is a unique phenomenon in Estonian culture, as it is one of the points of contact which link us intrinsically to the European cultural tradition.
On this record, the old chorales and contemporary tunes are intertwined by the improvisations of guitarist Jaak Sooäär, thus creating new associations and soundscapes.

Chamber choir Collegium Musicale was founded in 2010 by Estonian conductor and singer Endrik Üksvärav. Lauded for its special sound and exquisite performances, the choir’s repertoire spans from the Renaissance to contemporary music with a special focus on Estonian composers. Besides singing a cappella pieces, the choir often takes part in the performances of major choral works. Its thirteen years of activity includes performances in Estonia as well as various concerts and festivals in Italy, France, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland, Malta, Israel, Lebanon, Greece, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States. Collegium Musicale has collaborated with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, NFM Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Baroque ensemble Barrocade, and others.
Every year, the choir gives about 40 concerts. In 2019, within the project On the Trail of Forgotten Peoples, Collegium Musicale visited all the areas of Finno-Ugric tribes who were depicted in Veljo Tormis’s cycle Forgotten Peoples. In 2022, Collegium Musicale participated in the 50th Estonian Culture Days in New York.
The choir has released six CDs, including Tallinn Mass. Dance of Life (2014), a CD with Pärt Uusberg’s music (2018, Toccata Classics), Mass of Mary by Maria Faust (2022, ERP) and Canticum Canticorum Caritatis by Erkki-Sven Tüür (2023, Alpha). The Estonian Choral Association has named Collegium Musicale the Choir of the Year on three occasions (2011, 2014, 2017).
In 2017, the choir won the Grand Prix at the international EBU choral competition Let the Peoples Sing. In 2018, Collegium Musicale and conductor Endrik Üksvärav received the Annual Music Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment for promoting Estonian choral music and introducing it in a devoted and professional manner in Estonia and abroad.

Jaak Sooäär (b 1972) was born in Tallinn, Estonia. He graduated from Tartu University in 1994 (majored in international economy), from the Music College in Tallinn in 1996, and from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen in 2001. He has been teaching the guitar and ensemble at the Jazz Music Department of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre since 2001, he’s been the Head of the Department since 2004, and was nominated a professor in 2010.
In 2004, he established Jazz Estonia which has since then very successfully promoted jazz in Estonia and Estonian jazz abroad. He was the Chairman of the Board 2004–2009 and he’s been Deputy Chairman of the Board and Head of Foreign Relations since 2009.
Sooäär’s first performances (all over the Soviet Union) were as a member of the Estonian Boys’ Choir in which he started singing at the age of seven. He has been active on the Estonian jazz and pop scene since 1989, playing the guitar literally with everybody of note.
Since the late 1990s, Sooäär has performed with internationally known jazz musicians, including Tony Allen, Ray Anderson, Conny Bauer, Han Bennink, Raoul Björkenheim, Gavin Bryars, Will Calhoun, Kent Carter, Pierre Dørge, Daniel Erdmann, Arkady Gotesman, Mikko Innanen, Anders Jormin and many others, and has been active in several international bands, including The Dynamite Vikings, Erdmann-Sooäär Dessert Time (1st prize at international Peer Gynt Improvisation Contest in Pärnu, Estonia, 2001), Heavy Beauty, Kruglov-Sooäär Quartet, Trio Sooäär-Yaralyan-Ounaskari and Almost Zebra (3rd prize at the European Improvisation Tournament in Poitiers, France, 2001). In 1999, Sooäär toured with The European Jazz Youth Orchestra and, in 2003, was a member of the EBU Big Band in Istanbul, Turkey.
One of his Estonian groups, Eesti Keeled, was given the Estonian Music Award for the best etno/folk artist both in 2003 and in 2005. In 2013, the quartet Mustonen-Sooäär-Remmel-Ruben received the Estonian Music Award for the best jazz artist with album A Tempo (AVA Muusika). In 2007, Sooäär was the first to receive the Annual Estonian Jazz Award and in the same year he also received an annual award of the Estonian Culture Endownment. Jaak Sooäär has recorded over 40 CDs.

Conductor, singer, and the founder and artistic director of the Pühalepa Music Festival Endrik Üksvärav (1980) has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in the choral conducting class of Olev Oja (2004) and has obtained his Master’s Degree under the guidance of Hirvo Surva (2011). Earlier, he studied the trumpet and French horn, and in 2012, he enrolled at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague as a singing student.
In autumn 2010, Endrik Üksvärav founded the chamber choir Collegium Musicale, which has been awarded the title of the Choir of the Year three times during their 13 years of activity. The choir’s repertoire spans from Renaissance and Baroque to contemporary music, with a special focus on Estonian composers: Kreek, Pärt, Tormis, Tüür, Tulve, Kõrvits, Grigorjeva, Vähi, Faust, Uusberg, Pärnoja, Mölder… In addition, Endrik Üksvärav frequently performs as a tenor soloist with several professional Dutch music collectives. He has also conducted two of them, namely Cappella Amsterdam and the Netherlands Chamber Choir. Ten years after founding his own choir, Endrik Üksvärav created the Hiiumaa Chamber Orchestra in 2020.
Endrik Üksvärav’s commitment to developing the Estonian musical landscape has garnered attention on several occasions: in 2018, along with the chamber choir Collegium Musicale he received the Annual Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment for his vigorous development of Estonian choral music and dedication to introducing it in Estonia and abroad. The same year, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands conferred the Order of Orange-Nassau on Endrik Ükskvärav for his outstanding contribution to the community.

Other albums from Collegium Musicale