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Korvits: The Sound Of Wings

Korvits: The Sound Of Wings

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Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits (b. 1969) belongs to his country’s most prominent composers. His works are rich with delicate atmosphere possessing a particularly Northern feel combined with a romantic and Impressionistic touch. This new album by the award-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and conductor Risto Joost is the final volume in a trilogy of works for choir and orchestra. Moorland Elegies (ODE 1306-2), You Are Light and Morning (ODE 1363-2) and The Sound of Wings form a kind of a trilogy, albeit this was never a purpose in itself. All three works were performed first by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Risto Joost. The first two cycles are linked to the elements of earth and water. In this final part of the trilogy everything is carried by the element of air, and those existential themes which Tõnu Kõrvits has dealt with for decades in his works – nature, life, death, suffering, love – find a liberating and soaring solution. The composer has said that it is “the brightest work in the trilogy (...), which emanates the most light. It is a song of flying, of dreaming, of courage and unconditional love.”

One of the sources of inspiration for The Sound of Wings was Amelia Mary Earhart’s attempt to be the first woman in aviation history to fly around the globe together with navigator Fred Noonan, which was cut short whilst crossing the Pacific Ocean. On her specially adapted red Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Earhart was supposed to make a last land stop on Howland Island, but due to a fault in the navigation system she was unable to find it. Neither Earhart or the remains of her plane have ever been found. Earhart’s last radio transmission – inspiring due to the steadiness and matter-of-factness of the pilot’s voice – gave the titles to the two instrumental parts of the work. The element of air, the wind, the emptiness, flight and liberation in the music are embodied by the solo viola. The flageolet passages of the solo viola, the trills, the motifs which sway up and down pass through the entire piece, introducing as well as completing it. Wind images painted through sound can also be found in the orchestra and choir parts. Kõrvits’ instrumentation is sensitive and imaginative, just like his extraordinary talent of using the choir in the most varied but always singing way.


Tonu Korvits (b 1969) is possibly the most prominent Estonian composer of his generation, known particularly for his choral music. His music is lyrical and firmly tonal, though smooth, bluesy chromatic tones give it an elusive, hypnotic quality. He writes with genuine beauty, finding a kind of magic in tonality that is all too rare these days.

The Sound of Wings (2022) concerns Amelia Earhart. The text doesn’t so much follow a narrative but rather a succession of abstract meditations on emotions, aspirations, and sensations she might have felt while in the air. A solo viola evokes the ephemeral but liberating qualities of air with harmonics; it reaches its apex in a full-blooded solo in the last movement. The choral writing is consistently tender and lyrical, with attentive, natural text-setting. It is slow and often reserved, but always interesting and often quite moving. We also get the short but achingly beautiful ‘Sunday Wish’ (2020/22).

Wonderful performances from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Risto Joost. The choir is particularly exceptional, singing with a consistently gorgeous tone. Notes and text in Estonian and English.

-- American Record Guide

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Ondine
    • UPC/Barcode: 0761195141724
    • Item Number: ODE 1417-2