Imant Raminsh, a Latvian composer who now lives in Canada is the focus of this week's Consonant Classical Challenge. Although a violinist, most of Raminsh's music is written for the human voice -- most of it for chorus. Writes almost exclusively for the human voice, mostly choral works. Perhaps because a good portion of his catalog are sacred works, Raminsh's compositional style seems a continuation of tradition rather than a break from it.
His music has very strong tonal centers, with "softer" whole-tone (as opposed to half-step) dissonances. Raminsh has a very distinct compositional voice; his melodies seem to flow naturally from one note to the next without sounding commonplace or cliched.
The "Magnificat" begins softly, with a Gregorian chant-like solo that makes clear Raminsh's connection with sacred music traditions. The relatively simple harmonies and modest ranges of the voices make this a work that can be performed by college choirs, amateur ensembles, as well as professional singers.
The clarity of Raminsh's ensemble writing in his "Ave Verum Corpus" s easier to hear in this performance by a professional ensemble. Every voice has a purpose, and that purpose is to enhance the meaning of the words through harmonic shading.
"Three Spanish Lyrics" is a song cycle, showing Raminsh is eqaully skilled writing for the solo voice. Simple and direct, these three short songs demonstrate his ability to craft a singable melody that's both memorable and engaging.
Imant Raminsh writes music that's meant to be performed -- and it is. His work often turns up on programs for choral conventions and conferences. There's a serenity to Raminsh's music that makes it especially effective for worship. I wish more community choirs would add Raminsh's works to their repertoire.
Raminsh: Earth Chants - The Choral Music of Imant Raminish
Raminsh: Vocal Works
Anima Mea! New Music for Women's Voices