Presumably the first recording of Christoph August Gabler’s piano music.
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756−1791) – Sonata No 3 in B-flat major, KV 281
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756−1791) – Minuet in D major, KV 355
|Christoph August Gabler (1767−1839)
|Dix Variations in C major, Op 24 No 2
|Neuf Variations in F major, Op 25 No3 sur l’Air Nel cor più non mi sento (Paisiello)
|Ester Mägi (1922) – Vana Kannel
Recorded by Maido Maadik
Mastered by Kaspar Karner
Design by Andreas Kivisild
Photos by Toomas Tuul & Andre Hinn
Liner notes by Andre Hinn
Translated by Katiliina Gielen (English), Andre Hinn (German), Galina Kulikova & Evelina Lääts (Russian)
Produced by Johannes Vähi
Recorded in Eesti Raadio I Stuudio, Tallinn in October 2011 (1 – 4), May 2014 (5, 7), November 2014 (6)
Special thanks: Alo Põldmäe, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonia Piano Factory, RMK Sagadi Metsakeskus, Tartu Hoiu-laenuühistu, Gunnar Männik, Marko Tilk, Kadri Sohar, Reet Lepp, Eve Roomere, Florian Düsterbeck, Sibylle Bertsch, Lara Löser, Sophia Conrad
© Andre Hinn & ERP
The idea of the present record was born in the course of some interesting work with the music of a Baltic-German composer Christoph August Gabler (1767−1839). As I was unable to uncover any recordings of his compositions for piano anywhere in the world, producing the possibly first recordings seemed to be a moral obligation. In order to open up both the Western-European as well as Estonian contexts the record also features examples from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s and Ester Mägi’s music.
As Gabler’s expression of sounds has a similarity first and foremost with the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756−1791), born in Salzburg, it is Mozart’s compositions that will introduce the soundscape of the record. The opening Sonata in B-flat major, KV 281 is followed by a less typical Mozart – Minuet in D major, KV 355.
After that the listener should be slightly Vienna-classically tuned and ready for the somewhat similar, yet in every way idiosyncratic music originating from Estonia − cycles of variations by Gabler. For me personally, in addition to the classic background, Gabler’s musical signature contains in a good way something of salon music, featuring at times harmony that is downright unusual, even exotic and more inherent to contemporary music. For the understanding of the peculiarity of the harmony a mere one listening might not be enough because of the rapid tempo; however, the corresponding exciting findings become clearly visible when analyzing the notation.
Which way did the Estonian authentic music take later, the music that had used composing techniques developed in the West and in Russia, but whose roots were nevertheless in Finno-Ugric folklore? The final composition Vana Kannel (‘Old Zither’) by Ester Mägi (born 1922), one of the “most Estonian pieces” ever created with its abundant citation and remodeling of ancient folk tunes, attempts to provide a musical explanation to that question.
This record presents a journey of its kind from Salzburg to Reval, since Mozart was born in Salzburg and Gabler worked in Reval during his creative years. Later, when the former Reval already bore the name Tallinn, Ester Mägi, was born and still lives there. We can read about Mozart’s life and works in many a substantial reference book or publication, thus, I will hereby only introduce Gabler and Mägi.
Christoph August Gabler (hereinafter G) was born on 27 March 1767 in Mühltroff, Vogtland in Saxony (Germany) and died on 15 April 1839 in St Petersburg and was buried to Smolensky Cemetery. His father, also called Christoph August Gabler, was a minister in Mühltroff; his mother’s name was Johanna Christopha Dorothea (née Moebius). G married Carolina Amalia Clementz on 28 April 1803 in St Olaf’s Church, Reval. The family was blessed with 11 children, among whom the first-born Juliane Jeanette (1804−1879), G’s student and later a pianist and piano teacher but also a composer, is one of the most important family members from the point of view of cultural history. The seventh child, Alexander (1813−1906), a music businessman and sheet music publisher in St Petersburg, also deserves to be mentioned. What is more, Augusta (1818−1895), born as a ninth child, also composed music and plaid the piano. The last born Christoph August (1820−1884), probably the most famous from the children, became an architect of the Governorate of Estonia (City Architect of Tallinn, acquired his profession at the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg, most well-known for his St John’s Church in Tallinn).
G’s musical talent became evident at a young age. He began his music education at the age of six. From 1777 took part in Baron Kospoth’s (father of the composer Otto Carl Erdmann von Kospoth) home concerts, played the piano and also second violin in quartets and when symphonies were played. In 1780 his father sent him to school in Schleiz where the two last years he played the organ during services in the main church there and became prefect of the choir in 1786. He then studied theology and from 1787 law at Leipzig University, hardly engaging in music during the first two years. In 1790, influenced by the youngest son of Baron von Kospoth, he entered to study cameral science (Kameralwissenschaften) at the University of Göttingen and simultaneously also took the guidance of Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749−1818), a renowned music theoretician. In 1792 or 1794 G became a private secretary of the young Baron Kospoth in governing the manors. In 1796 he gave up the profession and went to Leipzig to dedicate himself entirely to music. In Leipzig he befriended August Eberhard Müller a composer and organ player of St Nicholas Church, who also became G’s teacher.
In 1797 he accepted the invitation of his friend from the Baltics a trainee judge (Oberlandgerichtsassessor) called von Fock, and became a music teacher in his family manor at Sagadi in Estonia. In 1800 or 1801 G went to Reval (Tallinn) where he acquired an honourable position in Estonian Higher Regional Court. First he worked as the secretary of the Governorate, at the same time teaching music. In winter he gave a concert a week with “much applause” demonstrating himself as an accomplished and tasteful piano player. He toured as a pianist − for example, on 21st March 1803 he gave a performance in Riga’s Theatre, in December 1804 in Great Gild Hall in Reval, but also in Dorpat (now Tartu). 1817 he got a position in the Reval harbor’s Customs Services as an “inspector of pharmacist merchandise and paint”. He, along with other merchants and customs officers, was involved in a so called Reval customs affair in 1817, and was convicted in 1820. G lost his position and the status of personal nobility connected with the latter. As one German and a Russian source based on this claim (probably erroneously) the process, after lasting for six years, ended with G’s acquittal. From 1823, G was once again known in Reval as a music teacher and composer, performing also as a pianist. At the same, he became the music director of the Reval Theatre orchestra. From 1828 he was again allowed to enter into the civil service − he became a Chancellor in the Government of Estonian Governorate. In 1830 Nikolai I granted him with pardon and promoted him to be a Collegiate Registrar. From 1863 until his death in 1839, G lived withdrawn in St Petersburg in the circle of his children.
Works: Oratorio Der Pilger am Jordan (1798); cantata, lament for the funeral of singer Gertrud Mara (1833); many different songs; chamber music. However, G seems to have written more piano music than anything else: for solo piano 15 sonatas (considerably fewer preserved), 1 sonatina, 1 serenade, Adagio et Rondo, 6 polonaises, 12 allemandes, 8 waltzes, about 5 cycles of variations. For four hands: 1 sonata, 1 nocturne, 4 overtures, 6 polonaises, 1 great waltz and 3 marches, but also cycles of variations. Unfortunately, apparently not all the works have been preserved. At least not all the aforementioned works are currently available and accessible. In the cycles of variations on the present record we will hear a style that is sparkling and gallant and that would definitely make the courts of Western-Europe proud. It probably makes the fact that the cradle of such music is Estonia much more interesting.
Ester Mägi was born on 10 January 1922 in Tallinn (former Reval). She graduated from Tallinn State Conservatoire as Prof Mart Saar’s student; in 1951−1954 she complemented her education with post-graduate courses at Moscow Conservatoire under Prof Vissarion Šebalin. In 1952 she became a member of Estonian Composers’ Union. 1954–1984 she was a lecturer of music theoretical subjects at the Tallinn State Conservatoire, and since 1977 an Associate Professor in the same institution. In 1999 Mägi was elected an Honorary Doctor of the Estonian Academy of Music. Ester Mägi has been awarded numerous different awards and honours throughout her life. Her works have been performed all over the world and recorded by many companies (present record is the first production of Ester Mägi’s work by Estonian Record Productions).
Ester Mägi’s music can be characterized as genuine and Estonian right down to its roots, both because of taking Estonian folk tunes to be its foundation as well as the general mythic-archaic tint of her sounds. Folk tunes are not taken over as direct and unalterable citations, but she develops them to be intertwined with the rest of the material forming an integral whole. Her compositions exhibit a wondrous balance, on the one hand characterized by feminine intuitions, emotions, refined details and nuances, chamber music-like quality and avoidance of the pathos, and, on the other hand, a masculine clarity of form, transparent sound images and epic character. Also in the most philosophical sense, she concentrates on the most important and deep − has given up the external flaunt with an aim, however, to try to penetrate the core, the roots of things.
Genre wise Ester Mägi wishes to explore many different paths − she has written music to usual as well as completely unorthodox collectives, including symphonies for orchestras, songs for choirs as well as soloists, extremely many-faceted chamber music, music for solo instruments, for soloists and orchestra. From large-scale vocal works also cantata can be mentioned.
Vana Kannel (‘Old Zither’). Ester Mägi has not composed very many works for the piano. The Old Zither (1985) is by far her most important and well-known piece for the solo piano. The piece is dedicated to Herbert Tampere, who was one of the editors of a folklore collection titled The Old Zither . According to Lilian Semper’s memories and later also in an interview to Tiia Järg, the composer has described the birth of the Old Zither in the following manner: “I got the inspiration to compose this piece from Hiiumaa island. We were on an excursion there and visited Soera Farm Museum which has a huge collection of objects from the bygone times. Everything is made by hand, a huge, long farmhouse filled with such things. The impression was overwhelming. Looking at those things − age-old wooden vessels, baskets, fishing gear, spinning wheels, yarn winders, maybe even musical instruments − one idea started to bud in my head. Each of the objects encompasses the skills of our forefathers, their labour and love. Why not unite folk tunes that in different form yet mush in the same manner reflect that labour and love. I immediately found an analogy with a collection of folk tunes The Old Zither, started by Jakob Hurt and continued by Herbert Tampere, that is a similar kind of collection of antiquities, a museum in its own [such as the one in Soera]. Thus, I have been weaving those folk tunes into the composition. I have not developed them much, they just sound and associate by my will. This is how the rhapsody-like Old Zither was born, not meant as a composition for the zither, but as homage to the monumental folk anthology.”
Virve Normet very accurately describes her associations: “This painful-epic feeling “Once upon a time…” the composition starts and ends with and that is continuously present throughout the piece, makes a myth of the Old Zither.” Although the composer based the title on a folk poetry collection, at places the work still reminds us of the instrument of zither in its sounds and character. Those will remain for the listener to discover. In addition to the usual folk tunes, the composition also contains more ancient shamanic elements. The Old Zither is very diverse in its colours, tunes, characters and rhythms, displaying various improvisational passages and therefore it is both by its form and its genre a fantasy, a rhapsody, to be precise, since it is based on folk tunes. The composition includes a leitmotif that does not originate from folk heritage and that functions like a structuring force at the beginning, end and also in between.
Andre Hinn has studied the piano in Tallinn Music High School (Maigi Pakri), acquired his BA from Estonian Academy of Music (Assistant Prof Ada Kuuseoks and Prof Ivari Ilja), MA (Konzertexamen) from the Cologne University of Music (Hochschule für Musik Köln) (Prof Dr hc Arbo Valdma) and complimented his education IMEP Graduate School of Arts (Institut Supérieur de Musique et de Pédagogie) (Prof Christian Beldi), in Belgium. Andre Hinn has also taken part in numerous masterclasses during his studies.
Andre Hinn’s achievements at music competitions
* Several awards from the competitions for young pianists (1990, 1991, 1994)
* Award from Estonian Academy of Music Competition for Chamber Ensembles (1998)
* First prize from a special piano students’ competition organised by the Lions Club within the 5. Jugendmusikwettbewerb der Bergischen Region (Germany 2004)
* Finalist with two special prizes in the VII Competition for Estonian Pianists (2008)
Andre Hinn has given concerts in Estonia and Germany, performed with Pärnu City Orchestra and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under conductor Jüri Alperten. His partners in playing chamber music include Tõnu Kalm (clarinet), Lisa Schumann, Kristina Kriit and Marike Kruup (violin), Olja Raudonen (cello) and Annaliisa Pillak (mezzo-soprano). As a harpsichord and piano player in Junge Philharmonie Köln, Andre Hinn has taken part in various tours (Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland). Hinn has also recorded for the Estonian Classic Radio.
Andre Hinn is a member of the Association of Estonian Professional Musicians and Estonian Performers Association. Since autumn 2009, Andre Hinn works in Heino Eller Tartu Music College.
See also other piano recordings by ERP: Keyboard Juggleress, Enter Denter, Heino Eller, Estonian Preludes, Northern Lights Sonata, The Well-tempered Clavier I, Sergei Rahmaninov. Piano Works, Toivo Nahkur, Neeme Järvi, Marginalia, Wiegenlieder der Schmerzen, Call of the Stars, Melancholy, Magic of Sound, Aleksandra Juozapénaité-Eesmaa, Resurrection of Mozart, Deus ex clavier