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Miskinis: Choral Music

Notes & Reviews:

The Royal Holloway Choir’s debut recording of music by Dubra received a rapturous response from the critics. Now the group offers a second volume of Baltic delights in the sumptuous music of Vytautas Miskinis. His music, while bearing identifiable Lithuanian roots, is a synthesis of different influences. It has an essentially diatonic approach but with much overlaying of harmonies and colored cluster-chords. What makes the music unmistakably Lithuanian is the influence of folk-song genres. The overall effect is luscious, radiant and exotic. This music is passionately performed by these talented young singers and sensitively recorded in a generous church acoustic.

"Ave Maria II. Ave Maria III. Dum medium silentium. Neieik, saulala (Don't leave me, sun). Oi a?la, a?la (Oh, it's getting cold). O magnum mysterium. O sacrum convivium. Pater noster. Salve regina. Seven O Antiphons. Tenebrae factae sunt. Time is endless

We truly live in a golden age for choral music. Our crack youth choirs, professional chamber choirs and composer-formed ensembles are spoilt for superb repertory. It is heartening to see that choral directors, such as Stephen Layton, are dipping an exploratory toe into the riches of the Baltic (eg "Baltic Exchange" - Hyperion, 4/10), and that a complete Mikinis disc, "Thoughts of Psalms", appeared recently on the Carus label, performed by the chamber choir Consonare, conducted by Almut Stümke.Born in 1954, Vytautas Mikinis is regarded as the doyen of the Lithuanian choral scene, with over 500 compositions to his credit and long experience as artistic director of the boys' choir Auoliukas. His music has a timeless and highly atmospheric quality. Textures and nuances are used with great perception. Clusters (diatonic) and ostinatos (hypnotic) are employed judiciously and always to enhance the meaning of the text. The effect on this listener is best summed up as being one of "contemplative meditation".

Rupert Gough has wrought wonders with his Egham choristers. Their tone glows warmly, with a firm bass-line and bell-like top soprano and tenor lines. Pitching is spot-on and climaxes are beautifully controlled. A particular pleasure is the addition of skuduciai (or Lithuanian panpipes) to the melancholic Neiseik, saulala ("Don't leave me, sun"), composed in 2007 for the Latvian Youth Choir, Kamer. The sumptuous swimming acoustic of St Alban's, Holborn, is perfect for this delicious music. Coupled to such compelling and committed singing, this benchmark recording has whetted my appetite for much more. Enjoy!"-Grammophon

”It would be easy to just go on and elaborate on the felicities and beauties and moving aspects of the disc's other 14 pieces, but you should just go now and hear these for yourself. The Choir of Royal Holloway and its superb conductor Rupert Gough are ideal advocates for this music, the 35 mixed voices perfect in number and in quality and unity of ensemble. Only once or twice was there a noticeable intonation lapse (the ending of "O Rex gentium" in the set of Seven O Antiphons, for instance), and only once did I think perhaps the work at hand was a little long for its material (Oi ala, ala--from 1994). The sound, from St. Alban's Church in London, perfectly complements the music and the choral timbres and textures. I recently reviewed the other Mikinis recording mentioned above (type Q13141 in Search Reviews) and am delighted to follow with this equally fine celebration of the work of a major, modern, and hopefully no longer little-known master of choral composition.”-Classicstoday.com

Classic FM Magazine, January 2011
The clarity and translucence of Royal Holloway's young voices, expertly trained and thoroughly prepared for this demanding job, ideally suits Mikinis' infinitely subtle art...the atmosphere and flavour of this album consistently feel 'right'.

Gramophone Magazine, January 2011
Rupert Gough has wrought wonders with his Egham choristers. Their tone glows warmly, with a firm bass-line and bell-like top soprano and tenor lines. Pitching is spot-on and climaxes are beautifully controlled...compelling and committed singing.


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