Galina Grigorjeva: Music for Male-Voice Choir

Galina Grigorjeva is a Ukrainian composer who moved to Estonia in her early thirties. She’s a deeply spiritual composer, and so the move makes sense. Estonia is the home of Arvo Pärt. Grigorjeva’s spirituality expresses itself in a different way than Pärt’s. She draws inspiration from Slavonic folk music and Orthodox chant.

This release highlights the connection between Eastern Orthodox sacred music and Grigorjeva’s works. Most of the compositions here are based on sacred text and themes. The sound of the male choir is reminiscent of Orthodox chant. But there’s more here.

Grigorjeva uses repeated motifs effectively. Sometimes it creates a pulse that gives the music life. Other times it gives the music a sense of motion, impelling it towards a well-defined climax.

Grigorjeva’s textures are often transparent, but never simple. Motion between lines may be similar, but they’re not exactly parallel. Subtle variations color the harmonies. And they also color the character of the text.

I didn’t understand a word being sung. But I was still drawn into the ethereal, contemplative nature of the music. The Estonian National Male Choir under Mikk Üleoja’s direction, has a malleable ensemble sound. They can sing with open-throated authority, delivering a rumbling bass thunder. And they can sing with quiet subtlety, creating a soundscape of delectate beauty.

In 2014 Galina Grigorjeva was awarded the Order of the White Star. It recognized Grigorjeva’s twenty years of musical contributions to the Estonian state. As this album makes clear, it was a well-deserved award.

Galina Grigorjeva: Music for Male-Voice Choir
Estonian National Male Choir: Mikk Üleoja, conductor
Toccata Classics TOCC 0679

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