Ešenvalds - Northern Lights (CD Review - Classical Music Sentinel, 2015)
When I initially heard and reviewed the first recording completely dedicated to the music of Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds (b. 1977), I knew that I had stumbled upon a composer with a deep love and respect for music. He avoids the trap, that most of today's choral composers fall into, of over-manipulating his material or following trends. He allows the structural and harmonic progression of his writing to unfold naturally and devoid of artifice, within each and everyone of his pieces. As I've mentioned before in another previous review, despite the fact that this composer's music is influenced by the styles of today and obviously written using the latest technical tools of the trade, it somehow defies the notion of time and era, and instead transcends the 'now' and transports your mind's gaze back through time and space, as if the music was drifting in from a distant and ancient past.
Any recordings I've heard featuring the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge under the direction of Stephen Layton have always been superb and this one is no exception. Layton's flowing phrasing and the choir's effortless a capella delivery, embellished here and there by beautiful solo voices, the Trinity Brass and Sally Pryce on harp, all reinforce the beauty inherent to the music.
I could go on in more detail, but let me sum everything up with these few words. When the opening work on a CD puts a smile on your face and the closing piece brings a tear to your eyes, there lies the power of music.
Reviewed by Jean-Yves Duperron