Just a few days after her Toronto recital debut, renowned Estonian organist Ene Salumäe treated an enthusiastic Montreal audience to a noon-hour program of exclusively Estonian organ works at the Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul
"Not much is known about Estonian organ music," explained Salumäe after her performance. "Composers like Arvo Pärt are doing lots to popularize Estonian music outside of Estonia, but the organ repertoire still remains much of a mystery."
Some of the works Salumäe performed are not even recorded (several of the scores were written in the composers' original handwriting), which added an extra sense of excitement to her interpretations and missionaric importance to her North American visit as a whole.
The program opened with "Avämang" by Hugo Lepnurm, a contrapuntal work interspersed with folk-like melodies and thick, brooding bass. The second piece, "Trivium," was unmistakably Arvo Pärt, featuring organum-like parallel 4ths and 5ths, monastic drone tones, and crystalline harmonies made transparent by Salumäe's delicate registrations and patient rhythmic pacing.
The mid-section of the program was filled with arrangements of Estonian folk melodies by Peeter Süda, Edgar Arro, and Veljo Tormis, the latter whom actually began his musical career with organ studies. His "13 Glances Toward the Organ" was arranged by Salumäe herself, with Tormis’ input.
The latter part of the program showcased word-painting pieces by Ester Mägi, Roman Toi and Priit Ardna that showcased Salumäe's command of the instrument, sense of sonic prowess, and ability to maximize its timbral versatility: terrifying war-like moods were paired with celestial and airy pastoral passages, and chimes that unfolded jubilant cityscapes atop glacial pedal tones were only a few sparkling moments that exhibited Salumäe's masterful sense of contrast, expression, and programmatic maturity.
Ene Salumäe's Montreal Performance A Porthole Glance into Estonian Organ Repertoire