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Litany to Thunder

Veljo Tormis , Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann , Kaia Urb , Mati Turi , Tiit Kogermann Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 8 Songs, 2000 $11.49  
Audio CD, 2000 --  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Tormis: Kust Tunnen KoduMarrit Gerretz-Traksmann 4:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Tormis: Leavas LauldakseEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir 5:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Tormis: Raua NeedmineEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir 9:57Album Only
listen  4. Tormis: Lauliku LapsepoliEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir 2:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Tormis: Muistse Mere LauludEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir 8:42Album Only
listen  6. Tormis: Piiskop Ja PaganEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir10:03Album Only
listen  7. Tormis: Pikse LitaaniaMadis Metsamart 5:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Tormis: Haned KadunudMarrit Gerretz-Traksmann16:20Album Only

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Product Details

  • Performer: Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann, Kaia Urb, Mati Turi, Tiit Kogermann
  • Composer: Veljo Tormis
  • Audio CD (February 1, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ecm Records
  • ASIN: B00002DEH5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,071 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

This startling record begins with two sopranos and a gentle piano sounding for all the world like Enya singing Satie; two tracks later we have a hair-raising chorus and drum hurling curses upon iron (which makes the tools of work and war). It's all the work of Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, who uses simple, even primitive melodies and ancient folk poetry (perhaps too simple for some listeners, especially those who understand no Finnish or Estonian) with exciting, sometimes atonal but always accessible accompaniment for chorus and/or instruments. The results can be plaintive and calm or vigorous, even feral. The effect is rather like Orff's Carmina Burana with less symphonic glamour but more musical substance. The most entertaining piece on the disc is "The Bishop and the Pagan," which retells (in a way) the story of St. Henry, who was martyred on a frozen lake in 1158 by an angry peasant with an ax. An alto and two tenors sing a medieval Latin poem in praise of Henry to a very chantlike melody in parallel fifths; meanwhile, baritones and basses pound out (softly at first) an ancient Finnish lyric told from the peasant's point of view. (You can guess how things end up.) The highlight is when the Henry trio is reduced to a wordless on-pitch howling while the peasant's chant is at its strongest--followed by a surprisingly witty ending. Not coincidentally, the next piece on the record, "Litany to Thunder," depicts the sacrifice of an ox to the god of thunder and rain. Frankly, it's terrifying. --Matthew Westphal

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not Arvo Pärt December 2, 2000
Format:Audio CD
This is a work for those who approach it out of great respect for the beauty and talent of performances by the Estonian Philharmonic Choir and some interest in the history and folklore of this region (Finland, Estonia, Karelia, etc.) Those founding their expectations based upon the works of Arvo Pärt without at least a cursory understanding of this separate subject matter shall likely be very disappointed. For others with exposure to other manifestations of Folklore in this region (in my case, Kalevala) and some understanding of its history will find many of the songs quite rewarding. The lyrics and delivery are consistent with what I have seen in Kalevala and in accompanying literature describing it and its singers. The vitality listeners come to expect from Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performances reaches a frenetic level of near abandon in "Curse Upon Iron". Those liking this album may also want to consider "Forgotten Peoples" (or, of course, vice-versa), it is a similar mixed collection of styles and moods.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent music from a prominent Estonian composer July 19, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Litany to Thunder has become somewhat of a legendary piece of music to Estonian listeners. It resembles not so much Carmina Burana, as usually referred by reviewers but more a choral version of old fenno-ugric chanting. Throughout all the tracks on the CD you can hear Estonian folk songs patterned with ancient rhytms of wizards and witches. Veljo Tormis has researched Estonian folk song traditions for many years and succeeded in joining "auld lang" music with contemporary understanding about harmony. If you are a fan of Estonian music based on your knowledge of Arvo Part and Erki-Sven Tuur only, you might not like Tormis for his simplistic but sometimes sombre language of music. But if you are into something more "ethnic", then Tormis is definitely for you! I also recommend to buy "Sermons and Devotions" by King's Singers to hear unusual version of Tormis's "Bishop and the Pagan"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To put it simply - Beautiful February 6, 2003
Format:Audio CD
I heard the song "How Can I Recognize my Home?" as I was flipping through different radio stations driving home last night. I've always loved the type of music that has a choir singing in Latin, especially the sopranos. It was so beautiful, I had to pull my car over and wait until the piece ended so I could write down the name and buy it as as soon as possible. I'm a filmmaker, and I could see this vision for my next movie accompanied by this piece. It was so beautifully sad; the emotion in this music is simply beyond words. I highly recommend that everyone listen to this music.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable 'Curse upon iron' September 28, 2001
By B.
Format:Audio CD
I heard (and saw) one piece from this CD performed live under direction of Kaljuste (but not with the same choir). It was just unbelievable and though I've heard many amazing choral performances before, this was just so different than anything else. 'Curse upon iron' by Veljo Tormis is obscure and brilliant at the same time, so one should listen to it without prejudice. Then it can be pure joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Partly based upon previous experience with "Forgotten Peoples," and under the influence of other reviewers' enthusiasm, I purchsed "Litany to Thunder."

Portions of the work are rather like "Carmina Burana" as a previous reviewer indicated, and I also found some of it akin to another Orff work, namely the opera "Antigonae" or perhaps even Stravinsky's "Les Noces."

Nonetheless, although "Forgotten Peoples" was truly a major musical discovery for me (with very few drawbacks), I cannot say the same for "Litany to Thunder."

It's a fascinating work, but the first and last pieces on this disc are irritatingly repetitious. In spite of this, the novelties of the combined vocal/instrumental combinations in all of the music are very expressive of austere power, a constantly-shifting runic starkness with raw percussiveness, from near-lullabies to full-throttle timpani.

I'd say overall that it's worth buying, but it would not be my first choice for a Veljo Tormis disc. That would be "Forgotten Peoples."
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