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DVD In the Mystical Land of Kaydara. Peeter Vähi

DVD Coppélia. A ballet by Léo Delibes

CD-series Great Maestros. Beethoven, Brahms. Kalle Randalu, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

CD Quarter of a Century with Friends. Arsis, Rémi Boucher, Oliver Kuusik, Rauno Elp

Super Audio CD Maria Magdalena. Sevara Nazarkhan, Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir, State Choir Latvija, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra

CD Jerusalem. Hortus Musicus

LP Contra aut pro? Toomas Velmet, Neeme Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Arvo Pärt

CD The Soul of Fire. Age Juurikas




Oratorio by Peeter Vähi

Sevara Nazarkhan, Priit Volmer,
Peeter Volkonski, State Choir Latvija,
Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir,
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra,
conductor Risto Joost

Oratorio for vocal soloists, basso, narrator, boys’ choir, mixed choir, nature sounds and symphony orchestra; original lyrics in Coptic language.
The Baltic Assambley Prize for the Arts 2013.


1 Movement I: Mary Magdalene Gospel 8:43
2 Movement II: Jesus’ aria All nature, all formations, all creatures... 9:16
3 Movement III: Mary Magdalene’s aria Do not weep and do not grieve... 13:33
4 Movement IV: I did not see you descending... 7:53
5 Movement V: He who has ears to hear... 7:30
6 Movement VI: Say what you wish to say... 6:12
7 Movement VII: Mary Magdalene Gospel 8:30

player Movement I, fragm, 3 min 35 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
player Movement II, fragm, 4 min 21 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
player Movement VI, fragm, 4 min 57 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps


Performed by: Sevara Nazarkhan (soprano, Mary Magdalene), Juris Jēkabsons (tenor, Andreas), Eduards Fiskovičs (baritone, Levi), Priit Volmer (basso, Jesus), Uģis Meņģelis (basso, Peter), Peeter Volkonski (narrator), Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir, State Choir Latvija, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Risto Joost

Recorded: Nov 29th − Dec 1st, 2011, Great Guild Hall, Riga
Engineered and mastered by Enno Mäemets / Editroom (Finland)
Artistic producer − Viive Mäemets / Editroom (Finland)

Nature sounds licensed from Ivar Vinkel
Advisor in Coptic pronunciation − Dr Jaan Lahe

Duration 61 min 42 sec

Booklet: liner notes in 3 languages (Estonian, English, German) + original Coptic text of the Mary Magdalene Gospel

In co-opreation with State Choir Latvija and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra
Manufactured by SONY DADC, Austria
Special thanks: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Risto Joost, Māris Ošlejs, Ilze Paidere-Staķe, Tiina Jokinen

© 2012 ERP
ERP 5412


This Stereo / Multichannel (surround 5.1) dual-layer Hybrid Super Audio CD is compatible with all CD players.

MariaMagdalenaSevara107Russian release
Sevara Nazarkhan
Mystery Records (Moscow)


Mary Magdalene Gospel

ImagetextMusic history knows many extensive vocal-symphonic works that are based on the gospels from the New Testament, probably the most famous of them being the Passions by Bach. Considerably less is known about the gnostic gospels that were excluded from the New Testament, of which the ones of Judas and Mary Magdalene are especially veiled by mystery. The latter is an apocryphal text, the manuscript of which was found in Egypt in 1896. The Coptic script on papyrus dates back to the 5th century, though one of the most respected authorities in the field Prof Karen L King presumes that the text was originally written in Greek already during the time of Jesus Christ. The oratorio is based without any exclusions on the original Coptic script that has been preserved till our times.
The oratorical works composed on gospel texts are mostly called Passions, however, in this case it would not be justified, since the text of the Gospel of Mary significantly differs from synoptic as well as John’s Gospels. The Gospel of Mary does not tell the story of Jesus’ Passion, instead it reveals philosophical reflections by Jesus as well as skeptic and, at times, jealous comments by the apostles. As an example, we can hereby read two fragments:
• The Savior said: “All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.”
• Andrew /…/ said to the brethren: “Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.” Peter /…/ questioned them about the Savior: “Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?” /…/ Levi /…/ said to Peter: “Peter you have always been hot tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us...”
The Coptic language belongs − or rather, belonged to the Afro-Asian group of languages and was spoken in Egypt until the 16th century. The written language used Greek alphabet with the addition of 6 borrowed demotic letters from the hieroglyphic script. Coptic was subdivided into dialects among which the two most important ones were Bohairic and Sahidic. The first is until today used in the liturgy of the Coptic Church whereas the latter has become totally extinct. Unfortunately, the Gospel of Mary has been written down namely in Sahidic. As the language is no more spoken, it is extremely difficult to restore the correct pronunciation of the Gospel and thus, the latinization of the current oratorio possibly contains certain inaccuracy.
The composer said: “While composing this work I have not tried to make a stylization of Coptic Liturgy. Only some percussion instruments (sistrums and Egyptian drums) that are used in the Coptic Church have found their way into the score, even then bearing more of a symbolic meaning.
I owe my deepest gratitude to Dr Jaan Lahe for his patience in consulting me in the field of the Coptic language to composer Arvo Pärt who supplied me with numerous recordings of the Coptic Liturgies.”

Download: original Coptic text and English translation (pdf)
Download: liner notes in Russian, Estonian or German (pdf)
Detailed info about the oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel
Maria Magdalena on YouTube player

Press resonance

Sonically this SA-CD is very clearly recorded, being originated in DXD and mastered in DSD. /.../ There isn’t a very strong sense of a solid front-back perspective, even with multichannel mode, although there are plenty of striking L−R exchanges, particularly with bells. Low reverberation certainly means plenty of detail, so the double-headed Egyptian drums and other percussion, like the metal plates, sound quite spectacular, as does the large array of trumpets. Recorded natural sounds are mixed in very subtly, such as the atmospheric sound of desert winds at the opening and closing of the Oratorio, or violently, with thunder so violent that one can almost see the lightning. Soloists are nicely balanced, not too far forward; thankfully the engineers resisted heavily spot-miking Sevara Nazarkhan’s light voice. After hearing so many standard classical oratorios covering the same New Testament texts, it is a real pleasure to hear such a novel and deeply satisfying creation from Vähi, especially one that is both easily accessible, yet modern in outlook and execution. /.../ Highly recommended for a novel experience. (John Miller, SA-CD.net, 15.12.12, Australia)

... it very much evoked a film score for me, a very dramatic, epic one. And I did think that a film work based on the piece might work very well. The performance under Risto Joost is admirable and evokes Vähi’s chosen sound world in brilliant technicolour. ... he shows fine control of the large scale work (lasting just over an hour). The large forces needed for the work, combined with the text in a dead language mean that it is not likely to be revived very often. So this CD is an interesting record, and a means of exploring a composer not well known in the the UK. (Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill − A World of Classical Music, 09.05.14, UK, whole article)

It’s programmatic music somewhere between a Biblical soundtrack, Baroque passion and choral / orchestral tone poem with eclectic timbres (sistrums, double-headed Egyptian drums, long horns, thunder sheet) and dramatic climaxes. Ambitious in scope and likely rare as on-stage concert, this recording is a real opportunity. (Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com Music Reviews, 1 / 2014, whole article)

And the scale of Vähi’s work is impressive. The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra is extended with 2 piccolo flutes, a piccolo clarinet, 4 trumpets, 2 long horns, metal sound plates, a thunder-sheet, 3 sistrums, 2 double-headed Egyptian drums, 2 harps and nature sounds with other recordings (wind, thunder, bells, water and Coptic liturgy). Much of this battery of instruments is used in the Mahlerian way; almost as chamber music, so that the big climaxes, when they come, are all the more effective. /.../ The instruments and recorded sounds are blended judicially together to provide musical evidence of a particular location or general atmosphere, and they are applied consistently so that returning to the that place or emotional state is quite obvious as the narrative unfolds. Vähi’s locus typicus is in First Century Palestine, and the harmonies, melodies, instrumental sounds and recordings immediately tell us that. /.../ The “long horns” produce a similar noise to the Jewish temple shofar (a ram’s horn which is blown at certain times from the Temple)... (HRAudio.net, 16.12.12, whole article)

了爱沙尼亚作曲家 Peeter Vähi 的清唱剧 《Maria Magdalena》 (抹大拉的玛丽亚)。 这一清唱剧源自基督教故事,但不完全遵循正统基督教主题和文本,更多参考了新约时期诺斯底福音书(曾被称之为"魔鬼的福音书")的内容,音乐上带有明显的东方主义和神秘主义色彩。 Sevara Nazarkhan 作为"抹大拉的玛丽亚"的角色,以女高音亮相。 (www.wtoutiao.com, 05.10.16, China)

Il n’est pas donné à tout le monde de se lancer dans l’aventureuse entreprise de composer un oratorio pour solistes vocaux, narrateur, deux chœurs, sons de la nature, langue copte et orchestre symphonique. Un estonien contemporain l’a fait. Et a remarquablement réussi. /.../ Sa démarche de composition s’approprie intelligemment mille sources distinctes retravaillées avec singularité et inspiration. /.../ Cette ouverture d’esprit et le sérieux qui l’escorte se retrouvent pleinement dans Maria Magdalena puissante partition d’une durée dépassant tout juste l’heure et composée de sept mouvements au cours des années 2010−2011. /.../ Maria Magdalena invite au voyage musical non stéréotypé, non balisé de poncifs, ponctué de touches grouillantes de trouvailles et d’idées toujours disciplinées et organisées au profit de l’ensemble inspiré et inspirant du discours musical. (Jean-Luc Caron, ResMusica, 27.07.12, France, whole article)

Peeter Vähi ist Jahrgang 1955 und damit rund eine Generation jünger als sein noch vor dem Krieg geborener Landsmann Arvo Pärt; und dieser Unterschied in Alter und gesellschaftlicher sowie kultureller Prägung spiegelt sich in dem vollkommen unterschiedlichen Verständnis ihrer jeweiligen Kunst wieder. Für beide ist das Komponieren essenzieller Ausdruck ihrer subjektiven Auseinandersetzung mit Spiritualität. Doch wo Pärt die große, Bach'sche Einfachheit sucht und mit einer von christlich-religiöser Klarheit geprägten und (auch) in die Vergangenheit blickenden Stilistik ein großes Publikum anspricht, ist Vähis Werk “hyper-modern” und komplex, eben wie die Welt der Gegenwart. /.../ In der Verbindung von Nahost und Russland ist das 2010/2011 entstandene Oratorium »Maria Magdalena« ein zwar nicht gerade einfach zugängliches Werk, schon allein inhaltlich-textlich, denn Vähi wählte ein Libretto in koptischer Sprache... (Ingo J. Biermann, Nordische Music, Germany, whole article)

Die bekanntesten sind dabei ohne Zweifel die Passionen Bachs. In dieser Tradition steht auch das 2011 in Riga aufgeführte Oratorium Maria Magdalena des estnischen Komponisten Peeter Vähi, denn es vertont das Evangelium nach Maria Magdalena. /.../ Für seine Vertonung des Textes greift Vähi zwar auf das koptische Original zurück, vermeidet aber direkte Anleihen bei der koptischen Liturgie oder die Verwendung koptischer Instrumente. Die Tonsprache Vähis ist im besten Sinne eklektizistisch, was dem überwältigendem Erfolg bei der Uraufführung sicherlich zuträglich war, denn dadurch erreicht der Komponist eine Zugänglichkeit, die der gnostische Text eher nicht besitzt. (Neuheiten Note 1 Music, 10 / 2012, Germany)

... toon op de strijkers geeft een apocalyptisch tintje aan het overdonderende geheel. Er volgen oosterse klanken, onweer en regen. Een prachtige canon wordt afgewisseld door de engelenstemmen van het jongenskoor. En dit alles is alleen nog maar het eerste deel! De andere 6 delen zijn even indrukwekkend. Het oratorium heeft een enorme impact in zowel de overdonderende fortes als de fragiele pianissimo's. De oudheid druipt van de Koptische teksten en ze worden prachtig gezongen door zowel de koren als de solisten; vooral de bas Priit Volmer maakt enorm veel indruk. De muziek heeft een duidelijk theatraal effect en een primitief karakter als van een Grieks toneelstuk. De compositie is uiterst divers en enorm fascinerend. Gelukkig zijn er heden ten dage nog steeds componisten die prachtige klassieke muziek weten te componeren. In ieder geval heeft Peeter Vähi met Maria Magdalena duidelijk gemaakt een componist van grote klasse te zijn. (Carl Puhl, Written in Music, 02.05.13, Holland, whole article)

Mer intressant finns i form av estländaren Peeter Vähis oratorium “Maria Magdalena” (Estonian Record Productions) som dels utgår från de delar som år 325 fick utgå ur det nya testamentet /.../, dels har ett anslag där nytt och gammalt verkligen får mötas i något som har både ambitionen att vara tillgängligt och innerligt, där Vähis bakgrund i såväl elektronisk som rockmusik får en sorts nytta. Det sväller och stannar av, dramatiken är påtaglig när den stora orkestern får blåsa på för fullt, men han är också skicklig att placera handlingen i ett platsmässigt sammanhang och man känner igen sig när handlingen återvänder dit eller dit, i mellanösternskrud som ibland blir nog så övertydlig i Lawrence of Arabia-stil; rekommenderas. (Jan-Erik Zandersson, Nya Upplagan, 5 / 2013, Sweden)

... эта особенность использована идеально. Тут надо сказать, что, во-первых, Вяхи не стал педалировать в музыке географические или религиозные коннотации, хотя ощущение Востока, безусловно, присутствует. Во-вторых, ему удалось создать вполне постмодернистское произведение, избежав всех подводных камней постмодернизма: и барочная полифония, и некая импрессионистская порывистость здесь, к примеру, существуют не как объекты трансформации, а как краски, оттенки, формообразующие элементы. И, в-третьих, даже не понимая того, о чем поется /.../, слушатель чувствует искреннюю страсть, благоговение и восторг, который только и возникает, когда сталкиваешься с по-настоящему значительным произведением искусства. (TrialNews.RU, 28.02.14, Russia, whole article)

... kaks olulisemat viimase aja plaati Peeter Vähi oratoorium “Maria Magdalena” ja Arvo Pärdi kogumik “Adam’s Lament”. Maarja Magdaleena lugu tugineb koptikeelsele apokriivatekstile: Piiblisse mitte kuuluvale Maarja evangeeliumile... ...aga teistmoodi valgust jumalapoja ja ta jüngrite suhtlusse puistab see küll. “Aadama itk” /.../ jällegi tugineb ühe XX sajandi alguse munga tekstile. Kummaline, et just need kaks teksti on settinud olulisteks teosteks: mul on tunne, et see sobib aja ja maailmaga kokku. Liiga suur infovõrk on inimeste silmade ees, liiga keeruliseks on elu kõigi oma atribuutidega läinud, liiga palju on kannatusi ja segadust ja hirmutunnet. /.../ Teadus meid ju ei aita, ei lükka ümber ega ka tõesta mingit meist suuremat vaimset või spirituaalset sfääri. Siis jääb võimalus kunstile: kombata kombatamatut. (Jürgen Rooste, Maaleht, 19.01.13, Estonia, whole article)

...“Maarja Magdaleena” on suursugune, heliloojale omaselt kultuuri, liturgia ja keele omapärasse süüviv ning muusikalisi avastusi tänapäevaga siduv. /.../ Koor ja orkester on Risto Joosti juhatusel täpne ja konkreetne, teose kroon on poistekoori taevalik kõla. Tipptaseme ja värinaid tekitava tämbriga rõõmustavad ka solistid Priit Volmer Jeesusena ja eriti Sevara Nazarkhan Maarja Magdaleenana (nii kaunis poistekooriga III osas!). /.../ Teos on teadaolevalt esimesena Eestis välja antud Super Audio CD formaadis... (Maria Mölder, Aplaus, Nr 5 / 2012, Estonia)

... super audio CD formaadis ilmunud Peeter Vähi oratooriumi “Maarja Magdaleena evangeelium” plaat on mitmes mõttes väga tähelepanuväärne salvestis. ... helilooja sünteesib väga hea maitsega (ja ootamatuteski kombinatsioonides) hästi erinevaid muusikalisi stiile orientaalsest modaalsusest barokse polüfoonia ja (neo)impressionistliku stiilini välja. Suurepärase orkestreerija ning koorihäälte visionäärina oskab Vähi kujundada väljendusrikkalt põneva kõlalise amalgaami, kus orientaalsetel rütmidel (või löökpillidel) on koostoimes heakõlalise helikeelega tänases postmodernses helikunstis avanemas täiesti uued horisondid, kuid... Kuid teksti ja muusika side on kõnelausel plaadil vähemalt selles mõttes pisut mõistatuslik, et ega ükski kuulaja saagi aru (kui ta just kopti keele sahiidi dialekti ei mõista, mis on ju võimatu!), mida laulab Jeesus (Priit Volmeri suurepärane sooritus) või kaunihäälselt helisev sopran Severa Nazarkhan Maarja Magdaleenana. (Igor Garšnek, Sirp, 06.09.12, Estonia, whole article)


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See other records of Peeter Vähi: A Chant of Bamboo, Supreme Silence, To His Highness Salvador D, 2000 Years after the Birth of Christ, Tamula Fire Collage, The Path to the Heart of Asia, Handbell Symphony, Sounds of the Silver Moon
See other records of Risto Joost released by ERP: A Chant of Bamboo, Pilgrim’s Song, Modigliani − the Cursed Artist, Verdi Wagner 200, Cantus Angelicus, La donna è mobile