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Latvian Choral Music

Choir traditions are very strong in Latvia. Alongside many professional choirs, there are tens of thousands of Latvians who are part of different amateur choirs. Once every five years the Latvian National Song and Dance Festival takes place with around 20,000 singers taking part in it.

Displaying 1-27 of 27 items.

Dzintars: Latvian Women's Choir : Songs Of Amber

Review: The small country of Latvia on the Baltic Sea had been independent for 23 years in 1941 when it was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union. Today the Baltic states (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania) have begun their struggle for independence.This struggle is often reflected and reinforced in folk song. Collections of Latvian folk music and song were made in the mid-to-late 19th century, and today the collection of the Latvian Academy of Sciences comprises 1 1/2 million texts and 30,000 melodies. Many choirs perform this material, some sticking to the traditional ways and others compose new settings of traditional texts. Dzintars, the Latvian word for amber, is Latvia's leading female choir, and they have won many competition awards: some favorites: the folk songs "Blow, Wind, Blow," "The Sun Moves Quickly," and "The Forest Shook From Dancing," Selga Mentse's "Where Have You Been, Brother" and "Orphan Girl In White," Peteris Vask's "Christmas Masquerade" and the Yiddish folk song, "Oi Hanuke." Marvelous, spirited music, sung with tremendous feeling by this 67-strong, brightly-costumed chorus! Some light accompaniment.

Songlist: Blow, Wind, Blow, Breaking Flax, The Sun Moves Quickly, Sleep My Child, Song Of The Wind, So Silent Is The Ukranian Night, The Forest Shook From Dancing, Where Have You Been, Brother?, Orphan Girl In White, Di Raike, Christmas Masquerade (Mummery Song), Oi Hanuke, Autumn Landscape, The Tomtit's Message

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9813c | 1 CD | $14.98 |

Latvian Radio Choir : Accentus - Strauss a cappella

Review: Richard Strauss, though better known as a composer of operas and tone poems, wrote significantly in other genres as well. One of those mediums that fascinated him throughout his entire life was the a cappella choral work. The earliest pieces recorded here-the Zwei Gesange - come from 1897, the year of Ein Heldenleben; the latest piece-Traumlicht, the second of the Drei Mannerchore - from 1935-36, those years in which Strauss was occupied with the operas Friedenstag and Daphne. The most extensive work here, and perhaps the most difficult to perform, is the Deutsche Motette. Written in 1913, between his work on the operas Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau ohne Schatten, it is a one-movement tone poem for voices. There are moments of incredible difficulty, requiring the basses to perform notes more than two octaves below middle C for passages at a time. The sopranos, on the other hand, are asked to sing passages requiring high Cs, more than two octaves above middle C. The singers here are up to the challenge. This is no small feat for a piece that contains at its highest number 23 individual parts! The earlier Zwei Gesange are also given very fine performances. The ensemble work here is much better in terms of blend. In the beginning of Der Abend (the first of the two Gesange) the singers are very good at overlapping and matching, creating a seamless wall of sound as they transfer from one section to the next. Each entry proceeds smoothly, through the odd chromatic wandering, until the very end when the ensemble creates an almost organ-like sonority. The two remaining pieces are equally thrilling and well done.

Songlist: Deutsche Mottette, op 62, Trumlicht, op 123, Zwei Gesange, op 34, Der Abend / Hymne

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2326c | 1 CD | $16.95 | A Cappella || Richard Strauss

Latvian Radio Choir : Glorious Hill

Review: In recent years Gavin Bryars has concentrated to a great extent on writing for the human voice - and a great deal of this is choral music. He has a close relationship with ensembles from the Baltic, especially the Latvian Radio Choir, now without doubt one of the world's greatest choirs. His first collaboration with them on GB Records was the superb On 'Photography', which was an Editor's Choice in Gramophone and extensively played on BBC Radio 3. This very fine choir is at home in all forms of contemporary music, but also in music from the baroque as well as early music. Many of Gavin Bryars' works on this recording take forms from early music, and some pieces originate in collaborations with early music ensembles - such as the Hilliard Ensemble and Trio Mediaeval. Here we have the stunning female voices of the Latvian Radio Choir in 9 and 11 part laude; the whole choir a capella in Glorious Hill and, in Cadman Requiem, accompanied by Riga Cathedral's magnificent organ in the cathedral's stunning acoustic. As on the first recording with the Latvian Radio Choir, Gavin Bryars has included works by Latvian composers close to his heart. Eriks Esenvalds is a young composer whose work recorded here was awarded first place at the 2006 International Rostrum for Composers. Peteris Vasks is perhaps the best known of all living Latvian composers. The work of both composers has a profound concern for the spiritual, which has led it to be linked with the music of composers such as Arvo Part or Giya Kancheli.

Songlist: Lauda 22, Fammi cantar l'amor, Lauda 23, Glorious Hill, Legende de la femme emmuree, Dammi conforto Dio, Lauda 24, Ziles zina, Cadman Requiem, -Kyrie/Requiem, -Creation Hymn Paraphrase (Bede), -Agnus Dei, -Creation Hymn, -In Paradisum

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8751c | 1 CD | $15.95 || Gavin Bryars

Latvian Radio Choir : Jonathan Harvey

Review: Jonathan Harvey is Britain's foremost composer of electronic music and has developed a complex and personal musical language for which he is globally recognized. His catalogue of works explores unique sound worlds and imaginative ensembles. The works on this disc, composed within seven years of each other during one of the most productive periods of Harvey's career, demonstrate the stylistic range of his choral writing and his unique approach to the combination of live performance and electronic sound, as well as his innate sympathy for the voice. The Latvian Radio Choir have been labelled as the creators of a new choral paradigm: a testament to their diverse range of voices and skilful performances of challenging experimental works. The choir champions the works of many leading Latvian composers and much focus is placed on exploring the capabilities of the human voice. The singers explore their skills by turning to the mysteries of traditional singing, as well as every other vocal utterance, from speech to breath. They make their Hyperion debut with thrilling performances of Jonathan Harvey's The Angels, Ashes Dances Back, Marahi and The Summer Cloud's Awakening.

Songlist: The Angels, Ashes Dance Back , Marahi, The Summer Cloud's Awakening

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6182c | 1 CD | $16.95 || Jonathan Harvey

Latvian Radio Choir : On Photography

Review: This all a cappella recording features some most interesting and talented composers. Gavin Bryars's numerous recordings have been among the bestselling CDs by any contemporary composer. Two of his albums, "The Sinking of the Titanic" and "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet", have sold more than 250,000 copies. This recording is notable for the extraordinary beauty of its choral sound, the precision of its ensemble, the perfection of its intonation, the subtlety of its phrasing, and the striking individuality of its soloists.

Songlist: And so ended Kant's Travelling in this World (Gavin Bryars), Three Poems of Cecco Angiolieri, Da ispravitsa molitva moja (Arturs Maskata), Expessa Solis, Resonare Fibris, Diptychon (Silvestrov), The Lord's Prayer, Testament

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7836c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella |

Latvian Radio Choir : Peteris Vasks - Pater Noster

Review: Peteris Vasks (1946), Latvia's most prominent composer, was the son of a Baptist minister, and while he always felt a strong affinity for sacred music, he didn't feel free to express it through vocal music since it would never have been allowed to be performed under the Communist regime. Since the early '90s, he has turned his attention more and more to religious texts, and this CD includes three of his most significant sacred choral works, including a setting of the Mass. Vasks' style of choral writing links him to the composers who have come to be described as "holy minimalists," a group that includes Part, Gorecki, Kancheli, and Tavener, whose music, while stylistically diverse, tends to rely on tonal and modal harmonies, is frequently harmonically static or slow-moving and is often linked to plainchant and ancient liturgical traditions. Vasks' choral music is firmly rooted in Western polyphony and is for the most part traditional-sounding; there is little in it apart from certain unconventional harmonic progressions that would make it immediately identifiable as a product of the late twentieth century. Among the other holy minimalists, the sound of his music is most closely related to that of Gorecki in its harmonic textures and the somber earnestness of its moods. The three works recorded here are polyphonically and harmonically sensual, in spite of their serious tone. An exception to the sober tone is the Mass' Sanctus, which, while not exactly lighthearted, is lively; the composer imagines it "sung by happy, little angels." The Latvian Radio Choir sings with warmth and passion and with excellent control in the composer's extended, sustained vocal lines. Sigvards Klava, conducting Sinfonietta Riga, leads them in deeply felt performances. The CD should be of interest both to fans of choral music and of new trends in minimalism tinged with Romanticism.

Songlist: Pater noster, Dona Nobis Pacem, Missa

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8684c | 1 CD | $16.95 || Peteris Vasks

Latvian Radio Choir : Peteris Vasks: Mate Saule

Review: Peteris Vasks' songs for mixed choir, like all of his compositions, provide a look at events, a portrait of the times. Quality, not quantity, is the keyword. This recording contains those compositions which the composer feels to be his best contributions to a genre which he has approached relatively sparingly.

Songlist: Three Poems By Czeslaw Milosz, Window, So Little, Encounter, Zemgale , Mate Saule (Mother Sun), Madrigals (Madrigal)#, Litene# (Ballad for 12-voiced chorus to a text by Uldis Berzins ), I, II, Dona nobis pacem

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7837c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Peteris Vasks

Latvian Radio Choir : Rachmaninov: Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

Review: Sergei Rachmaninov's setting of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom - Eastern Christianity's common Eucharistic service liturgy - is regarded as one of the great cornerstones of 20th-century sacred music. This work of symphonic proportions was composed in the summer of 1910, in less than three weeks. After its completion, Rachmaninov wrote to a friend that he had been carried away by the project and that it had been a long time since he had written music with such pleasure. The outcome was judged by contemporary church officials as "...absolutely wonderful, even too beautiful... it is not church music." This a cappella choral work is performed by one of the foremost choruses in the world, the Latvian Radio Choir, under the direction of Sigvards Klava. The soloist roles are sung by K rlis R tent ls (tenor; celebrant priest) and Gundrars Dzi ums (bass; deacon). The recording was made at the Riga Dome Cathedral.

Songlist: Blessing, Bless the Lord, o my soul, Glory to the Father ? Only begotten Son of God, In Thy Kingdom, Come, let us worship, O Lord, Save - Holy God, Cherubic Hymn, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creed, A Mercy of Peace, We hymn Thee, Hymn to the Mother of God, The Lord's Prayer, Communion Verse, We have seen the true light, Let our mouths be filled, Blessed be the name of the Lord, Many years

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6190c | 1 CD | $15.95 || Sergey Rachmaninov

Latvian Radio Choir : Rautavaara - Missa A Cappella

Review: Ondine continues its long-term collaboration with Einojuhani Rautavaara, the Latvian Radio Choir and Sigvards Klava by presenting the world premiere recording of Rautavaara's Missa a cappella. Being praised by Gramophone as an outstanding body of singers, the Latvian Radio Choir is one of the top chamber choirs in Europe. This is choir's follow-up disc to their highly successful recording of Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, which was Gramophone's Recording of the Month in February 2013. For the Missa A Cappella alone, this album will likely become a seminal recording of Rautavaara's sacred choral repertoire. Those wishing to become more familiar with this challenging, nuanced literature would do well to add this CD to their collection. --John Guarente, Choral Journal, Nov 2014

Songlist: MIissa A Cappella, Psalm Of Invocation, Evening Hymn, Missa Duodecinica, Ave Maria Gratia Plena, Canticum Mariar Virginmis, Our Joyful Feast, Die Erste Eligie

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22257c | 1 CD | $17.95 || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics

Latvian Radio Choir : Rytis Mazulis - Cum Essum Parvulus

Review: Conductor Kaspars Putni s leads this wonderful choir on the works by Rytis Mazulis.

Songlist: Canon Solus, Sybilla, Cum Essem Parvulus, Ajapajapam

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8380c | 1 CD | $15.98 || Rytis Mazulis

Polyphony : Esenvalds: Passion & Resurrection

Review: The live performance last year of this major and substantial work by the young Latvian composer Esenvalds thrilled critics and audiences alike. As a new liturgical work that looks set to enter the repertoire it is comparable to Arvo Part's Passio. Eschewing the single narrative perspective that characterizes the great Passion settings of the past, the composer has assembled an interlocking mosaic of texts from the gospels, from Byzantine and Roman liturgies, and from the Old Testament. Stephen Layton's commitment to new Baltic music is well-known and he has a deep understanding of the musical language of the area - reflected by performances of great integrity and passion. This recording is particularly splendid, featuring not only the matchless Polyphony and Britten Sinfonia but also Carolyn Sampson, acclaimed for her performances of early music on Hyperion but heard here to dazzling effect, crowning the performance with her extraordinary singing.

Songlist: Passion and Resurrection, Evening, Night Prayer, A Drop In The Ocean, Legend of the Walled-in Woman, Long Road

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6184c | 1 CD | $19.95 || Erics Esenvalds

Royal Holloway Choir : Miskinis: Choral Music

Review: Royal Holloway's debut Hyperion recording (of the Latvian composer Rihards Dubra) received a rapturous response from the critics. Now they have produced a second volume of Baltic delights, turning this time to Lithuania and the sumptuous music of Vytautas Miskinis, the doyen of current Lithuanian choral culture. His music, while bearing identifiable Lithuanian roots, is a synthesis of different influences carefully shaped and moulded with an experienced understanding of choral orchestration. Like many other Baltic composers of the same generation, Miskinis takes an essentially diatonic approach but with much overlaying of harmonies and coloured cluster-chords. What makes the music unmistakably Lithuanian is the influence of two folk-song genres. The overall effect is luscious, radiant and exotic. This music is passionately performed by these talented young singers and sensitively recorded in a generous church acoustic.

Songlist: Dum medium silentium, O sacrum convivium, Pater noster, Tenebrae factae sunt, Neiseik, saulala "Don't leave me, sun", O Antiphons (7), Oh, it's getting cold, O magnum mysterium, Ave Maria no 2, Salve regina, Ave Maria no 3, Time is endless

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6175c | 1 CD | $18.95 || Vytautas Miskinis

Arvo Part : Collected Choral Works

Review: This new anthology of Part's choral works replaces the earlier one published in 1999. It is even more representative of Part's work, not only because of the recent additions, but because of the very welcome decision to include two selections from his major a cappella work, Kanon Pokajanen. The revised selection is also carefully geared towards the music represented on three CDs, all of which were recorded in consultation with the composer. introduced by Paul Hillier.

Songlist: Arvo Part, Observation on the Performance of Arvo Part's choral music, Bemerkungen zur Auffuhrungspraxis der Chorwerke Arvo Parts, Remarques sur l'interpretation des oeuvres chorales d'Arvo Part, Werkvezeichnis- List of Works- Catalogue des oeuvres, An den Wassen zu Babel saben wir und weinten, Beatus Petronius, Cantate Domino canticum novum, Da pacem Domine, De profundis, Dopo la vittoria, Gebet nach dem Kanon, I Am the True Vine, Littlemore Tractus, Magnificat, Memento (Ode VII), Missa syllabica (a cappella), Most Holy Mother of God, Nunc dimittis, Salve Regina, Sieben Magnificat- Anthiphonen, Solfeggio, Statuit ei Dominus, Triodion, Veni creator, Which Was the Son of ..., Zwei slawische Psalmen

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8735b | Songbook | $49.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Arvo Part

Eriks Esenvalds : Choral Antholgy for Upper Voices

Review: Born in 1977 in Latvia, Eriks Esenvalds is an original and sought-after voice of the Baltic music tradition. Commissioners have included the Latvian Radio Choir and State Choir "Latvija", the Britten Sinfonia, Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Temple University (USA), the Boston Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. His work is recorded on a number of CDs. Eriks Esenvalds is a former Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, University of Cambridge.

Songlist: Northern Lights, Stars, Ubi Caritas Et Amor, Benedictus Es, O Salutaris Hostia, Spring, The Sweet Spring, Who Can Sail Without The Wind, Gaujas Meita Rotataja

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4451b | Songbook | $16.95 | SSAA divisi | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics

Eriks Esenvalds : Choral Anthology Vol 1

Review: The Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds is a most sought-after choral composers working today, with a busy commission schedule and performances of his music heard on every continent.

Songlist: Who Is He?, Lielupe, O Salutaris Hostia, A Drop in the Ocean, Evening, This is my Father's World

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4363b | Songbook | $14.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics

Peteris Vasks : Baltais Fragments - (White Fragment)


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4333b | Songbook | $7.95 | TTBB | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Carnival Song

Review: Vasks compositions incorporate archaic, folklore elements from Latvian music and place them within a dynamic and challenging relationship with the language of contemporary music. The works are frequently given programmatic titles based on natural processes. Vasks' intentions are however not so much a purely poetic praise of nature or showy tone painting, but rather the pursuit of themes such as the complex interaction between man and nature and the beauty of life on the one hand but also the imminent ecological and moral destruction of the world which he expresses in musical language.

Songlist: Carnival Song

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8767b | Songbook | $9.95 | SSSSAAAA | A Cappella || Arrangements for 8 Parts | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Cross of Golgotha


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4330b | Songbook | $6.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Home (Dzimtene)

Review: Peteris Vasks' strong attachment to his Latvian home country shows particularly in his choral music. Nature, customs and traditions as well as the idea of freedom are the central themes of the texts he sets to music, while carefully using modern techniques of choral singing as well. Alternating with traditional, even archaic singing, the music creates a multi-faceted, immediately effective sound image in the listener's mind

Songlist: Musu Dziesma (Our Song), Miedzins Jaja (Sleep Was Riding), Maminai Klausidama (Following Mother's Advice)

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7377b | Songbook | $9.95 | SSAA | A Cappella || Northern European Choral Arrangements | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Missa


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4331b | Songbook | $18.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Mother Sun

Review: Central to Vask's work are human beings and nature. The beauty of nature versus the threat of it, and the human role in it. His human and cultural image is therefore not very optimistic. However, in his work Vasks expresswes wonder and beauty. Especially in his early compositions. The choral work Mate Saule (Mother Sun) from 1975 is one such work. It seems nothing but an evocation of a sun with sparse melodies that break away from the sound as halos and sun breaking through the clouds. Meanwhile, this work is also a piece that is exemplary for the later choral works of Vasks. Although the piece is almost entirely diatonic, drop the instrumental notation for the votes and nice dissonant textures right on. These are things that Vasks in his later work refined and enriched.

Songlist: Mother Sun

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8771b | Songbook | $6.95 | SSAATTBB | A Cappella || Arrangements for 8 Parts | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Sorrow - Three Songs For Female Choir

Review: Peteris Vasks' strong attachment to his Latvian home country shows particularly in his choral music. Nature, customs and traditions as well as the idea of freedom are the central themes of the texts he sets to music, while carefully using modern techniques of choral singing as well. Alternating with traditional, even archaic singing, the music creates a multi-faceted, immediately effective sound image in the listener's mind. These six songs for female choir centre on the themes of man, nature and transience, and home in aphoristic brevity. Vasks wrote music on these folk poems which contains rewarding tasks for the choir and opens up a fascinating world of sound to the listener.

Songlist: The Sad Mother, Small, Warm Holiday, Sunmmer

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7341b | Songbook | $9.95 | SSAA | A Cappella || Northern European Choral Arrangements | Peteris Vasks

Peteris Vasks : Ziles Zina (The Tomtit's Message)

Review: Text in Latvian.

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4332b | Songbook | $8.50 | SSAA | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics | Peteris Vasks

Ugis Praulins : Missa Rigensis (Riga Mass)

Review: A striking setting of the Mass by Latvian composer which has been recorded by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Songlist: Missa Rigensis

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4046b | Songbook | $10.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Choral Arrangements from The Baltics | Ugis Praulins

Various Composers : Latvian Choral Music - Songs for Female Choir Vol 2

Review: English and Latvian text. Composers: Leons Amolins, Pauls Dambis, Rihards Dubra, Maija Einfelde, Eriks Esenvalds, Romualds Jermaks, Alberts Jerums, Selga Mence, Peteris Plakidis, Juris Vaivods, Ruta Vintule.

Songlist: Sun Behind the Clouds, A Cowherd's Life is Hard, A Spring Song, Song of the Flax Breakers, Two Songs of Ophelia, The Little Rain Man, Laudate, Gloria Patri, Kyrie Eleison, O Salutaris Hostia, Ave Maria

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3045b | Songbook | $9.95 | SSAA | A Cappella |

Various Composers : Latvian Choral Music - Songs For Male Voice Choirs

Review: English and Latvian text. Composers: Leons Amolins, Pauls Dambis, Rihards Dubra, Maija Einfelde, Eriks Esenvalds, Romualds Jermaks, Alberts Jerums, Selga Mence, Peteris Plakidis, Juris Vaivods, Ruta Vintule.

Songlist: Stars, At Christmas, My Song, Adoramus Te, Laudate, Hodie Christus Est, Verbum Caro, Nunc Dimittis, Five c Songs, Te Lucis Ante Terminum, Mirdzi Ka Zvaigznw

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3046b | Songbook | $9.95 | TTBB | A Cappella |

Varoius Composers : Latvian Choral Music - Songs For Female Choir Vol 1

Review: English and Latvian text. Composers: Austrina , Ilze Arne, Peteris Barisons, Rihards Dubra, Jekabs Graubi s, Romualds Jermaks, Andris Kontauts, Emils Melngailis, Selga Mence, Helmers Pavasars, Andris Sejans, Bruno Skulte, Valdis Zilveris

Songlist: Handsome is My Brother's Homestead, Joyfully I Weave My Song, Dievin's House Has Long Tables, In The Evening When the Sun Sets, Mother Of The Sea, Mother Of The Wind, Little Oak Tree, A Dancing Song, Chase Me Though The Forest, Melodies, Fairy Tale, Lullaby, In The Clock Workshop, A Prayer, Laudate Dominum, Benigna Domina

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3044b | Songbook | $9.95 | SSAA | A Cappella |

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