Familiar with the difficulties for women composers in UK until very recently, it is good to read that Ester Mägi (b.1922) has enjoyed esteem in her native Estonia for nearly half a century, and commissions from Sweden and Germany. This CD, mainly of small scale chamber pieces, shows her fresh approach. Nothing too dauntingly avant garde, but good craftswomanship and usefully unusual instrumentation.
The Serenade for flute, violin & viola was written to augment this combination's slender repertoire. There are pieces for cello with guitar and another, very striking quartet of overlapping Dialogues for flute, clarinet & piano and a cello which makes a late entry with a powerful solo. There are two vocal items, a wordless vocalise with flute and guitar and a trenchant, highly effective group of eight Haiku, a minute each. To finish, the earliest work included, Variations for piano, clarinet and string orchestra dating back to 1972.
Well worth exploring, and a reminder of how insular some musically better endowed countires are, all too easily overlooking the products of their smaller neighbours.
Other in the same series, also recommendable, are Lepo Sumera's Chamber Music (Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9165) and a musical portrait of Mati Kuulberg (Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9087).
Copyright © 2004, Peter Grahame Woolf