EFO’S FIRST RECORDING RELEASED!

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Without Pärnu, the Estonian Festival Orchestra and this – our first album together – would not exist.

Pärnu is a special place that embodies the history and spirit of the orchestra, my own family and Estonia as a whole. It is a quiet seaside resort on the Baltic coast, south of Tallinn, where all the Järvi family gathered for two months every summer. With its large and sheltered sandy bay, endless parks and surrounding birch forests, Pärnu has always been a favourite holiday destination and, during occupation, it was also the summer home of many Soviet artists including Dmitri Shostakovich and David Oistrakh who visited for the nearest thing to western tolerance and understanding in the Soviet Union. A holiday any closer to the West was not possible for any of us.

It was here in 1973 that I met Shostakovich together with my father when I was ten years old, a moment captured on camera and which now sits proudly in the family photo album. Behind the camera was Gustav Ernesaks, the Estonian choral conductor and composer whose song, Mu isamaa on minu arm, became an unofficial national anthem for all Estonians during the Soviet occupation.

In 1980 we left for the States and for years to come, memories of childhood holidays in Pärnu became increasingly distant and nostalgic. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the renewed Independence of Estonia were we eventually allowed to return home and, following my father’s initiative in creating a conducting Masterclass Academy in Pärnu, we decided to expand the venture into a summer festival, celebrating the orchestra at its heart. In July 2011 the Pärnu Music Festival came into life and so did the Estonian Festival Orchestra, bringing together young Estonian players and top-league musicians from orchestras around the world; musical colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure to work with on numerous occasions over the years. It was immediately clear that another family had been born with a hunger and energy for performing together which is a rare joy to find nowadays.

An important component in creating the orchestra was to “match-make” the players. If you are a young player in Estonia, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s not often easy to make contact with a top player in the west. Now we can give these young musicians the advantage to play with elite players from abroad and get to know them as new friends. This spirit is what drives the orchestra and it is a delight each summer to see how those relationships have grown naturally, creating a melting pot of national and international talent where nationality is happily and importantly no boundary.

The week of the festival is intense and everyone gives their utmost in a schedule packed tight with rehearsals, master-classes and concerts, following which we gather together in what is now traditionally known as the “real festival headquarters” – the Passion Café, where friendships are forged and new plans for the future are hatched. It is a remarkable coincidence, and one which is never lost on me, that in the very same building where the Passion Café now stands there used to be a printing house where the manifesto for the Estonian Declaration of Independence was first printed in 1918.

It is often said that there is something in the Estonian air that is a mixture of Scandinavian, German and Russian influences and, even though we have our own very strong national identity, it is true that we also have a natural feeling for neighbouring cultures as a result of our historical and geographical position. So the idea for the Estonian Festival Orchestra is to explore music by composers from across the Baltic region, which naturally includes championing Estonia’s own composers and music from the Nordic countries as well as music from Poland, Russia and Germany, countries with which our history is strongly interlinked.

For our first recording I have chosen the music of Shostakovich, not only because he is one of the giants of 20th century music but also because of his connection to Pärnu where he both stayed and composed. Symphony No.6 is a masterpiece but it also differs from all of Shostakovich’s other symphonies because it has an air of peculiar lightness. As the composer himself said “I wanted to convey in it the moods of spring, joy and youth.” Despite that lightness the subtexts are grim and after the first casual listen one can sense the composer’s struggle with the terror of living in the Soviet reality.

The “Sinfonietta” is a 1961 arrangement for string orchestra and timpani of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.8 compiled by the composer’s trusted friend, Abram Stasevich, and orchestrated with the composer’s personal blessing. Premiered one year previously, the Quartet is a musical autobiography describing Shostakovich’s life to that point, including citations of pieces that he had previously written and his own musical leitmotif – DSCH. It is a profound work dedicated “In memory of the victims of fascism and war” and which, when performed by the Borodin Quartet at his home in Moscow, left the composer in tears.

Performing and recording these works in Pärnu with a generation of musicians who can now enjoy both peace and freedom of movement across Europe’s borders makes these works feel even more poignant. As the Estonian Declaration of Independence states:

“You stand on the threshold of a hopeful future in which you shall be free and independent in determining and directing your destiny! Begin building a home of your own, ruled by law and order, in order to be a worthy member within the family of civilized nations!“

Paavo Järvi, September 2017

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EFO NEWS

THE LURE OF THE NORTH

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention”
Die Welt

“The world-famous Järvi conducting dynasty, handpicked musicians, a modern concert hall and the historical buildings are Pärnu’s ingredients for the musical event in the so-called “summer capital of Estonia” … Musicians from all over Europe came to Pärnu to become part of a summer festival of the generations. […]

“MÖTEN, MINNEN, MUSIK”

Sweden’s Opus Magazine interviews Paavo Järvi about “Memories, a meeting place & music”  – three words that characterise Pärnu and the Estonian Festival Orchestra which makes its
debut at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival on 24 August.
Read the full story in Swedish on line at opusmagasin.se

“LIGHT, SKIES, SOUNDS”

Germany’s Die Zeit visits Pärnu “where a small festival is set to conquer Europe” and reports on the Estonian Festival Orchestra and its allure:

“The musicians of the orchestra come from everywhere. Members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen sit shoulder to shoulder with Estonian newcomers and colleagues from France, Greece or the USA. Paavo Järvi’s goal (“over two or three years”) is to emulate an institution such as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Claudio Abbado elite-based ensemble, gathering the best of the […]

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EFO PRESS

“… The Sibelius symphony (no. 2) showed an orchestra with a nerve and willingness to play all the way … the energy and cohesion to create an uncontrollable and direct symphonic world that hit right in the diaphragm.”
Politiken, Henrik Friis, 24 August 2017

“The concert of the Turku Music Festival on Saturday night became a poignant tribute. Paavo Järvi, director of the Estonian Festival Orchestra, dedicated the concert to the memory of the victims (of the previous day’s attack). The performance began with a minute’s silence, after which he conducted Jean Sibelius’s Valse Triste … Meanwhile, the performance of the 18 year old Dmitry Shostakovich’s chamber symphony was both amazing and vivid. Paavo Järvi has always had the ability to clearly outline a dense orchestral texture, but now there is more warmth and flight.”

Turun musiikkijuhlat. Viron festivaaliorkesteri kapellimestarina Paavo Järvi ja solistina viulisti Lisa Batiashvili. – Sibelius, Nielsen, Tšaikovski, Kantšeli, Šostakovitš.
TURUN musiikkijuhlien päätöskonsertista lauantai-iltana tuli kaunis kunnianosoitus.
Viron festivaaliorkesterin johtaja Paavo Järvi oli päättänyt omistaa konsertin uhrien muistolle. Tilaisuus alkoi minuutin hiljaisuudella, jonka jälkeen hän johti ohjelman ulkopuolelta Jean Sibeliuksen Valse tristen.
Vesa Siren, Helsingen Sanomat, Finland
Full story in Finnish at hs.fi

Im verträumten estnischen Badestädtchen Pärnu leitet Paavo Järvi ein einzigartiges Festival – und hat mit dem Estnischen Festivalorchester einen Klangkörper von europäischem Rang ins Leben gerufen.
Die Presse

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention”
Die Welt

Sweden’s Opus Magazine interviews Paavo Järvi about “Memories, a meeting place & music”  – three words that characterise Pärnu and the Estonian Festival Orchestra which makes its
debut at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival on 24 August.
Read the full story in Swedish on line at opusmagasin.se

“The musicians of the orchestra come from everywhere. Members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen sit shoulder to shoulder with Estonian newcomers and colleagues from France, Greece or the USA. Paavo Järvi’s goal (“over two or three years”) is to emulate an institution such as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Claudio Abbado elite-based ensemble, gathering the best of the best summer each summer. This may seem a bit of a high goal, but it is not far-fetched. Pärnu also has a special aura, scenic and relaxing like around Lake Lucerne. Its remote, northern location has an enormous charm. Last but not least, the orchestra will be going on its first European Tour in 2018 to make itself known more widely.” (April 2017)
www.zeit.de

One half consists of Estonian musicians, the other is made up from artists Paavo met during his successful conducting career, the festival’s orchestra is now ready to take flight and start touring Europe.“As little as we get some sleep here, and as much as we work here, somehow there is an enormous sense of accomplishment, and adrenaline, and good music-making; every summer I am richer by getting to know very close and personally some of the greatest musicians that are alive today,” said Järvi.
www.euronews.com

“This is highly concentrated music making, where all the details are worked out: the ping pong of accents between violins and horns, antiphons between the woodwind groups, targeted focus curves in the second violins. Nothing is sweeping, nothing sleepy and nothing washed away. As Iván Fischer did with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi has also chosen the best musicians from orchestras around the world with which he has worked … Järvi could go into open competition with Lucerne and Verbier. For this purpose he could have extended – even expanded – the festival time and programme in Pärnu with more courses and concerts. But he does not want this … “I need this week for high concentration in Pärnu. I have experienced so many festivals that have been seduced by their success to increase their growth. They continue to produce good music, but their character is lost.” (July 2016)
www.faz.net

“The world-famous Järvi conducting dynasty, handpicked musicians, a modern concert hall and the historical buildings are Pärnu’s ingredients for the musical event in the so-called “summer capital of Estonia” … Musicians from all over Europe came to Pärnu to become part of a summer festival of the generations. Many of them are Estonians who work abroad. Others have been infected by their enthusiasm. And the Estonian music scene is concentrated for two weeks in the small coastal town, where the Järvi family opens a window into an ideal music world”
Deutschlandfunk kultur

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