Translations, the latest all-Ešenvalds recording by Portland State Chamber Choir under Ethan Sperry released on Naxos in March 2020, continues to receive excellent reviews.
The recording was selected among Gramophone’s Critics’ Choice 2020 (December 2020) following the earlier selection as Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice (May 2020): ‘More Ešenvalds from America’s West coast … another deeply moving offering of his music, superbly sung.’
Gramophone critic Malcolm Riley: ‘As the days grow shorter and the curtains are drawn earlier, I am lured back to the Portland State Chamber Choir’s ravishing all-Ešenvalds album, Translations, mostly for its highly soothing, comforting factor but also for the stunning choral performances under Ethan Sperry. Another Naxos bargain, full of emotional relish.’ ‘For those seeking comfort and an escape from the manifold stresses and uncertainties currently facing mankind, there will be much in this new collection of choral music by Ēriks Ešenvalds that will warm the soul and give solace while also providing a salutary reminder of the essential fragility of our existence. … A stunning, timely triumph, therefore, full of ravishing, transformative and deeply touching music.’ Read the full Gramophone review
Stereophile selected the album among its Records to Die For 2021 (January 2021) and Recording of the Month (June 2020)
Stereophile critic Robert Deutsch: ‘In June 2020, Stereophile selected Translations, an album of choral works by Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds, as recording of the month. JVS called the choral album “equal in quality to the finest I’ve heard on record” and described its sonic quality as “exemplary.” I second Jason’s impressions. My two favorites include the title track, which features extended choral tonalities and shimmering singing handbells played like Tibetan singing bowls. The second is In paradisum, which produces a ravishing but wordless choral tapestry behind the solo instruments, its vocal tonalities shimmering subtly and changing, making it the most beautiful choral recording I’ve encountered.’ Read the full Stereophile review
BBC Music Magazine (June 2020): ‘Portland State Chamber Choir produces a beautifully blended sound in Ešenvalds’s multi-layered, atmospheric music — although a whole disc of it does begin to pall after a while. Probably best consumed in bite-size chunks’.
MusicWeb critic John Quinn (April 2020): ‘Ešenvalds is one of the most interesting and innovative composers of choral music currently before the public. Even his shortest works are ambitious in imagination and as a singer himself — he was for nine years a member of State Choir Latvija — he has great knowledge of what will work well for a choir. This particular programme offers an excellent cross section of his choral music. … Ešenvalds is extremely well served by the Portland State Chamber Choir. … They make a very fine sound indeed and the singing is highly disciplined and attentive to detail.’