This is the third release by the Latvian Radio Choir of Peteris Vasks’s music. The choir has long collaborated with the composer. And what a fruitful partnership. Several of his works they premiered appear in this release.

The music of Latvian-born Peteris Vasks shares some qualities with that of other regional composers, such as Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, and Einojuhani Rautavaara. There’s a strong spiritual element in his music. Time seems suspended in clouds of sound. Vasks’s music isn’t about drama; rather, it’s about contemplation and serenity.

In the program notes for his “Da Pacem, Domine,” the composer wrote the “I believe that music strengthens our faith, love, and soul.” That belief is strong in this wonderfully crafted choral work. Director Sigvards Klava and the Latvian Radio Choir premiered the work, and they know it intimately. Klava brings out every subtle detail in Vasks music, weaving together a beautiful tapestry of sound.

The ensemble also premiered “Mein Herr und mein Gott,” based on a meditation by 15th Century mystic Nicholas of Flüe. Like “Da Pacem,” it’s an introspective work that invites the listener in.

“Laudate Dominum” is contemplative in a different way. Solo organ passages alternate with the choir singing just a single line. For me, the listening experience was similar to watching a slowly revolving mobile. The relationship between the elements gradually changes, continually (albeit slowly) yielding fresh insights.

This is sacred music most profound, performed by artists who understand the composer’s intent. Highly recommended without reservation.

Peteris Vasks: Laudate Dominum
Latvian Radio Choir; Sinfonietta Riga
Sigvards Klava, conductor
Ilze Reine. organ
Ondine