Liner Notes for the LP Ellerhein Chamber Choir - Veljo Tormis (1) by Tõnu Kaljuste and Veljo Tormis

The Ellerhein Chamber Choir was formed by previous members of the Ellerhein Children's Choir who wished to continue singing together. The choir began in 1966 and, for its first seven years, was directed by Heino Kaljuste. I took over the full time leadership of the choir from my father in 1973. Major stages in the choir's development were the performances at the choral festival Tallinn 1975 and the All-Union Arts Festival in 1977.
The purpose of the choir is to study and perform good choral music from all time periods. Besides more formal academic concerts (with music by Palestrina, Lasso, Victoria, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Bach, Mozart; major works by Debussy, Ravel, Delius, Britten, Messiaen, Camiller, Toch, Fehér; and choral works by Soviet and Estonian composers), the choir has performed in experimental events where text and theatrical performance were combined (spirituals, French chansons, Estonian folk songs in arrangements by Karl August Hermann, Veljo Tormis and others).
Tõnu Kaljuste


Both of the song cycles performed on this record use the resources of the Estonian so-called "regi-verse" folk song (also known as regi-song, runo-song), one of the oldest parts of our country's song performance tradition, with roots extending back thousands of years to a once unified Balto-Finnic culture. When writing these works, I followed runo-song structure and performance style, such as the alternation of
lead and backup singers, repetition of the verserow, scansion etc. Some special aspects have been ignored here, however, because they were not adaptable to written notation systems and would lose their original sound and purpose when sung only according to the notes. In any case, it was not my goal to improve upon folk song, but to capture the essence of its being.
The source materials of the "Thirteen Lyrical Folk Songs" are an example of the great variety of different local song styles and dialects, with the
parish of each song's origin shown after its title. The generic name of the cycle and its source materials are from Herbert Tampere's collection "Estonian Folk Songs And Their Melodies," Volume 5. The texts of the "Two Estonian Runo-Songs" were adapted by Jaan Kaplinski into a more common language style. The second of these songs is in the lyric-epic category.
These interpretations were achieved through cooperative work by the Ellerhein Chamber Choir. The routine-free methods of these youthful singers allowed a performance style appropriate to folk song to be worked out, with special attention given to the unique character of timbre and pronunciation. Similarly, the recording personnel adapted to a non-traditional recording style which assisted our collective desire to communicate better an understanding of runo-song.
Veljo Tormis

(translation from the original Estonian LP notes to English by Alan Teder © 2002)

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