Respectus CD

RENE EESPERE: The Morning of Sculpture, Evocatio; Respectus; Immulatio; Tres in Unum; Tactus Sensus; Ludus Tactus; Tactus Spiritus; Eptgramm VI, The Empty Room VI; The Empty Room III; Matbeth; Modus Vivendi, Motus; Trivium, Staminis; Ante Diem, The Empty Room §, The Empty Room V, The Empty Room IV; Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra.

Various artistes ERP 7313

René Eespere was born in 1953 in Talinn, the capital of Estonia and is currently professor of composition and music theory at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He has written several concertos for piano, violin, flute and viola as well as vocal-symphonic works and chamber music. This double-cd recording concentrates on his output for classical guitar (it is not stated whether or not that these are his complete guitar compositions), half of the programme being for solo instrument and the rest in various combinations with such as with violin, flute, soprano, vibraphone, one guitar duet and finishing with a concerto.

If this recording is representative of his writing, the musical style of Eespere could best be described as spiritual, reflective, meditative — all of these things and more. It seems intensely ‘personal’ music, at times exceptionally introverted, at other times quite gregarious, but all very effective and affective music.

Nowhere is it stated that Eespere actually plays the guitar, but whether he does or does not these compositions illustrate a fine, sympathetic and extremely skilled writer for the instrument. The solo guitar works of which there are eleven - stand easily alongside the best of contemporary compositions for the guitar. Although there are some beautiful melodic lines scattered throughout this programme, in this format Eespere seems to rely less on memorable melodic invention and more upon rhythmic patterns (and even more upon creating an evocative ambiance).

In the works for guitar and other instruments the guitar is on equal footing with the melody instrument and once again there are some truly outstanding moments. Whether for guitar solo or in ensemble, this is all very listenabie music.

All the guitarists taking part in this project put in superb performances — both musically and technically and it would be unfair to not list their names, so here goes:
Tut Peterson, Heiki Matlik, Esteban Colucci, Donato D’Antonio, Kristo Kao, Vahur Kubja and Eleftheria Kotzia,
the latter name being the soloist in the guitar concerto, which is, for this reviewer. the premium composition on the disc. The two movements take up around 23-minutes-worth of disc space and in this time Eespere creates many varied and stimulating moments. Passages of high drama neatly sit alongside tranquil, contemplative sections, the guitar part being very skilfully interweaved amongst the other instruments.

This is emotionally affecting music — at times quite disturbing, but mostly it is of a pleasurable, satisfying and serene nature, Within this writing one can detect shades of Britten, Rutter, Hovhaness, even Messiaen, but Eespere most definitely has his own ‘voice’ and it is certainly one to seek out.

Steve Marsh - 2014 Classical Guitar Magazine