Composers: Jēkabs Jančevskis
Compositions: Aeternum and other choral works
Performers: Choir of Riga Cathedral School, Jurģis Cābulis
Catalogue Number: Hyperion CDA68328

Not long ago, good choral music seemed to be the preserve of the English, another cultural export of the British Empire. The superb singing on this recording attests to the fact that this is no longer the case. Not only do the Baltic States have very fine choirs, they also have accomplished and imaginative composers of choral music. Estonian, Arvo Pärt led the way, but more recently Latvians, Ērik Ešenvalds, Uģis Praulinš and Rihards Dubra have captivated singers and listeners alike.

This first album of choral music by Latvian, Jēkabs Jančevskis (b. 1992) reveals an extraordinary musical imagination. Jančevskis, a graduate of Riga Cathedral Choir’s conducting course, is not afraid to write daringly difficult music, but he is blessed that his alma mater provides such ardent advocacy for his works.

All eight works featured here vividly set their texts. Atsalums (Coldness) for 12-part choir, treats the composer’s selection of Latvian folksongs exploring the lure of leaving Latvia in search of a better life. The dramatic sound world of this piece is utterly unique and is worth the price of the disc alone. Fearless, high singing from the sopranos in O lux beata Trinitas impresses, as does the mesmeric hush of Aeternum. Setting famous lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, When features lush textures and a solo cello, while The Button tells a heart-rending tale with power and beauty. Don’t miss this compelling debut. We’re sure to hear of Jančevskis again.