Toomas Pästoreii

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Toomas Pästoreii (1871-1954) is widely regarded as being the greatest Karolian classical composer and one of the most important figures in the period of arts which he lived through. His most notable compositions are his eight symphonies, his concertos for violin and cello, and his symphonic poems.

Life

Music

Pästoreii's style spans the transition from the high Romantic style to the Modernist and Nationalist schools. He drew much of his inspiration from the Karolian national mythology, however it would be a mistake to assume that the music is entirely devoted to national themes or particularly rooted in folk song (indeed, no major work has any kind of quotation of folk melody). His early style derives much from earlier Karolian composers but also with the influence of Pretanic and Bengonian works from the period.

Symphonies

Pästoreii's symphonies range from the Romantic (no.1) to the neo-classical (no.3) and the verge of atonality (no.8).

An early five-movement choral symphony 'Kalet' is not usually given a number in the canon, however it already shows many of the characteristics of his mature output. The orchestral writing is bold and in several places demands considerable technical skill from the strings, as well as the novel use of time signatures and rhythms derived from folk music.

No.8 (1935/rec.2000)

The Eighth Symphony, which he worked on from 1929-1935 but never presented in a finished version, was thought lost for several decades after the composers' death, until a set of handwritten parts turned up in a publisher's archives in Vasireii in 1998. Although full of corrections and missing the contrabass, trumpet, second oboe, third and fourth horn parts, it was possible to reconstruct the symphony with the help of a few surviving sketches from libraries. The version finished by Timo Suhainen and Maarja Selts was premièred by the Santjana Philharmonic as part of the summer festival in 2000, but has since then been followed by controversy arising from assertions by other music scholars that after hearing a read-through Pästoreii subsequently made substantial revisions and that the surviving parts are the discarded version. Indeed, although the symphony is highly accomplished, several parts had very sketchy orchestration, which Suhainen and Selts had to complete, and other features suggesting this may have been only a draft. An even more controversial 'performing edition' which claims to represent a version closer to the composer's final thoughts, was performed in 2009 in Vasireii. Nevertheless, the 'original reconstruction' has entered the canon and been broadly accepted by orchestras worldwide, appearing on all but two of the recorded symphony cycles released since 2001.

The music itself represents a strikingly new direction for the 60-year-old composer, according to Selts "combining familiar hallmarks of his style with a daring harmonic language and contrasts of both dense counterpoint and austere simplicity. A particularly prominent feature are the several instances of 'sound fields' in which the music repeatedly revolves around the same figures for what seems like eternity, providing the sensation of the music both moving forward and being rooted to the spot in a single moment". The symphony is in two large movements with several sub-sections and various tempi. Professor Stefaani va'Laite of the University of Fontjana noted that "The harmonic language is both radically forward-looking and at the same time has its roots in the far past. Harmonies are treated in the manner of strict Baroque counterpoint at one moment and then used in a series of clashing changes of quartal chords, made all the more arresting by the orchestration, which at several points pushes the instruments into extreme registers hitherto unexplored by the composer. And yet all the disparate elements are forged into a completely convincing united whole with technical mastery."

Concerti

Pästoreii completed only two instrumental concerti (his 'tone poem with voice' is not usually counted in this genre), both mature works which have some similarities, not least in their contrasts of light and dark orchestral colours. The violin concerto is in the conventional three movements, whilst the cello concerto falls into two broad sections which are played without a break between. The writing for both the solo instruments varies from the extremely virtuosic to the

Opera

Only two mature operas were completed during the composer's lifetime.

Chamber Works

The composer's chamber music has not received so public a profile as his orchestral works, but a mature string quartet in four movements is often included in concerts and is regarded as being as accomplished as the symphonies. A late piano quintet is also amongst his finest works

Songs

Choral music

Legacy

Pästoreii is frequently performed in Karolia and around the world.

The Toomas Pästoreii Hall is the main auditorium of the Musicaverne in Santjana.

Pästoreii tee is an important street in the Culturslaat district of Santjana. Other streets named after him are found in several other Karolian towns, not least his birthplace.

He appears on the current Kr10 banknote issued by KVB.