Estonia’s Got Talent

15. November 2011.

It was a gala evening with reunions of old classmates, and a celebration of local musical skill as ERSO celebrated the 50th birthday of Tallinn Music High School on Friday at the Estonia concert hall.

There were many highlights in the long program, which covered the better part of three hours. The short and emphatic “Fanfare” from Mihkel Kerem got things rolling. Following was the soulful and meditative  “La Muse et le Poete”, opus 132 from Camille Saint-Saens. The piece for violin and cello gave Arvo Leibur and Henry-David Varema a chance to show their chops, which are considerable.

Perhaps the highlight of the night came from clarinetist Toomas Vavilov playing Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Concert no 2 in E flat major, opus 74. This was just simply an extraordinary effort which left concertgoers gleeful. The second movement, particularly, showed Vavilov’s masterful dexterity.

Another amazing performance materialized with Martin Kuuskmann’s bassoon playing on Tõnu Kõrvits’s “Teispool päikesevälju”. This was avant-garde stuff and sounded a bit like Ornette Coleman blowing his brains out on the saxophone. Very groovy.

The program saw a parade of guest conductors, all enjoying the spotlight with their musical buddies. Mikk Murdvee, Vello Pähn, Tõnu Kaljuste, Anu Tali, Paul Mägi, Andres Mustonen and Olari Elts all stood at the rostrum. It was interesting to see Hortus Musicus’s Mustonen performing as a conductor, sans violin and medieval garb. It was also nice to see a female conductor in the person of Anu Tali waving the baton.

The Krigul brothers teamed up for the piece “Ringing Options”, Ülo Krugul penning the work for percussion performed by Vambola Krigul. An energetic and spot on performance by Vambola. Nice work.

Some fine violin talent shone from Andrus Haav on Sibelius’s Violin Concert in d minor, opus 47. It never fails to amaze how a tiny acoustic instrument can pack such an emotional wallop.

Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concert, opus 13 featuring Ivari Ilja rounded out the evening. It was a long piece to end a long program, which stretched to about 22:00, leaving not a few men to glance at their watches anxiously, the Ireland-Estonia Euro playoff starting at 21:45. Knowing the result, a couple of hours more of music would have been just the thing. The talent on display Friday night, all nurtured and groomed at Tallinn Music High School, speaks volumes about the efficacy and importance of this institution to Estonia’s culture life. It was genuinely heartwarming to see old classmates and friends greeting each other, enjoying a glass of wine and the music that brought their lives into contact.