Sinfonietta Rīga to perform the opening concert of the Pärnu Music Festival
On Sunday, 11 July at 8:00 p.m. the State Chamber Orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga will take to the stage alongside maestro Paavo Järvi to perform the opening concert of the Pärnu Music Festival. In the eleven years of the festival’s existence, this will be the second time that the opening of this significant music event has been entrusted to Latvian musicians. This year’s concert programme features works by two of the most relevant contemporary composers in Estonia. Audiences will have the opportunity to appraise the Grammy award-nominated composition L’ombra della Croce by Erkki-Sven Tüü, as well two of Arvo Pärt’s masterpieces – Summa and Fratres –, considered as belonging to ‘the Golden Canon’ of contemporary classical music. In the latter piece, the violin solo will be performed by Triin Ruubel, concertmaster of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. The concert will conclude with a tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven in honour of his last year’s 250th anniversary. Sinfonietta Rīga will perform the great composer’s Eighth Symphony under the direction of Paavo Järvi.
The annual Pärnu Music Festival – one of the most highly anticipated summer music events in the Baltics – was founded in 2010 by the renowned Järvi dynasty of musicians. During the ten years of its existence, the festival has earned a solid spot in the calendar of musical events in Northern Europe. The Pärnu Concert Hall, which was unveiled in 2002, serves as the festival’s main venue.
The resort town of Pärnu, nicknamed the summer capital of Estonia, has close ties with the Järvi dynasty. It was here that Paavo Järvi – the artistic director of Orchestre de Paris, the Bremen German Chamber Philharmonic and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – spent his childhood days with his father, the legendary conductor Neeme Järvi. The fact that the composer Dmitri Shostakovich and violinist David Oistrakh visited Pärnu during the summer holidays to draw inspiration and foster their creativity by the shore of the Baltic Sea bears testament to the city’s musical allure.
The opening concert will begin with Arvo Pärt’s (1935) masterpiece Fratres (Latin: Brothers), performed by Sinfonietta Rīga and Triin Ruubel, concertmaster of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. The composition is an expression of Arvo Pärt’s personal style of musical minimalism – tintinnabuli –, which the composer first started using during the 1970s. This new style was more than just a compositional technique or a form of stylistic exploration. Tintinnabuli can be considered a manifestation of Pärt’s personal epiphany; the composer distanced himself from musical Modernism and turned to studying church music. In Arvo Pärt view, it takes but a single beautifully played sound to create music.
Summa, the second of Pärt’s compositions featured in the concert, also belongs to the same period of his artistic practice. Initially, it was intended as a choral piece; however, in 1992, the composer adapted the arrangement so it can be performed by the world-famous Kronus Quartet. When describing the composition in 1994, Arvo Pärt said:
‘I have worked out a strict compositional system, which I have been using to create music for 20 years. I adhered most strictly to this system while composing Summa; this has simultaneously turned out to be one of the most enigmatic fruits of my creative labour.’
The Hiiumaa-residing composer Erkki-Sven Tüü is another Estonian musician whose works are well-known and held in high regard far beyond the borders of our neighbouring countries. The opening concert of the Pärnu Music Festival will feature a piece by Erkki-Sven Tüü that was released on the record Gesualdo. This conceptual work of art, co-authored by Erkki-Sven Tüü and his Australian colleague Brett Dean, is a reflection about the music, times and life of Carlo Gesualdo (1566 - 1613), the prince of Venosa and a well-known composer. The album starts with Gesualdo’s music, then continues with Tüü and Dean’s compositions that reflect 21st-century reality. The album was recorded by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. In 2017, the album was nominated for the prestigious Grammy award. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear one of the two compositions Erkki-Sven created specifically for this album.
The Eighth Symphony, considered by those familiar with Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) works to be one of his greatest masterpieces, was composed in the summer of 1812 soon after the completion of the Seventh. The composition is full of ironic implications, musical antics and playful humour. Unlike other works by Beethoven, the Eighth was not dedicated to a specific event or person. As the renowned British musicologist Antony Hopkins has noted, the Eighth’s light-hearted, at times playful character was most likely inspired by the love life of Beethoven’s brother Johann, which both annoyed and amused the composer. It is widely believed that the symphony's main motif was inspired by the metronome, which was invented in 1808 by Johann Maelzel, the German engineer and mechanic of the Court of Vienna. As years went on, the legend about the role the metronome played in the creation of the symphony grew in strength; one of the most often cited arguments in favour of this view is the existence of an uncatalogued four-voice canon titled ‘Ta ta ta... Lieber Maelzel,’ WoO 162. The heartwarming and humorous melody was composed for a celebratory banquet in honour of the famous inventor. However, it is possible that the author of the canon was not Beethoven, but his secretary – Anton Schindler, a man who dedicated his life to deifying Beethoven and weaving legends of the composer’s exploits.
When asked why his other symphonies garnered more widespread recognition, Beethoven had retorted that the Eighth was his best. Incidentally, Beethoven was also known to have fondly referred to it as his ‘little symphony in F major’ as opposed to another symphony written in the same pitch, namely, the more voluminous Sixth.
The Pärnu Music Festival will take place from 11-18 July. Audiences will have the opportunity to attend concerts not only in the Pärnu Concert Hall but also in St. Elizabeth’s Church and the historical hall of the local health resort.
One of the festival’s main goals is to educate young musicians. This year, Latvian violinist Eva Bindere and clarinettist Guntis Kuzma have been invited to participate in workshops as lecturers. Furthermore, Aivis Greters, the artistic director of the Chamber Choir Kamēr…, and cellist Margarita Balanas will be attending the event as students to further hone their skills under the tutelage of conductors Arvo Pärt and Kristjan Järvi.
Audiences will be able to attend the festival concerts on-site, as well as listen to live broadcasts online via the Pärnu Festival website: https://parnumusicfestival.tv/pmf
To learn more about the festival and this year’s concert programme, visit the official festival website: https://parnumusicfestival.ee/en/home/