ROSE Danse macabre  —  Gregory Rose, cond; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble  —  TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0284 (60:09)


“…this 28-part essay, sharing its title and even some of its imagery with Saint-Saëns, is a remarkable experiment in music theatre…Rose sets a medley of Latin and medieval German texts, interleaving choral and solo movements and instrumental dances in a startling tapestry of sound.  Stravinsky and Britten may be reference points, but distant: the inventiveness is his own.”

Paul Driver, The Sunday Times 06.09.2015


Danse Macabre review – medieval visions of mortality come alive

“Rose gives all the characters – with soloists drawn from the extravagantly talented Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – lithe and generous lines to sing, accompanied by some truly original combinations of instruments. He has the impressive knack of melding a 15th-century text to music informed by Henze, Ligeti and Cage, yet with a fresher, more accessible edge. It’s ripe to be staged – and danced, of course.

Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, 15.11.2015  ****


“Using smaller forces throughout…Rose comes up with some fascinating combinations of sounds and textures, creating a work of impressive stature.  The music works wonderfully to fully convey the texts: the music is at times eerie, at times ironic, in others more humorous, and sometimes even light-hearted… filled with a quiet mystery…the especially beautiful and hushed Absolve, Domine. But there are others (that) are equally expressive and highly entertaining.”

Scott Noriega, Fanfare USA, Issue 39:4 (Mar/April 2016)


“Rose infuses his dances with a strong sense of the processional, and the dances provide one of the recurrent elements of this work and are one of its most resonant features. Rose’s music exercises a gripping sense of immediacy. The solo singers faithfully enact those qualities of sardonic mockery, unease, and fear asked of them. Evoking the timelessness of the past through contemporary means is a special gift. Performances are outstanding not least from Rainer Vilu in the role of Death and there’s a very sympathetic recording. This is a piece of music-theatre that lingers long in the mind.”
Jonathan Woolf, Music Web International



“The musical language has influences from different periods – from Gregorian chant up to Steve Reich, national bagpipe music up to atonal music, but this mixture does not create disordered confusion, indeed it’s a surprisingly homogeneous whole and in the context of contemporary music provides surprisingly friendly listening.  Notke’s expressive figures now have a musical companion with as powerful characteristics and colours as on the painting. Especially colourful is the musical language employed for the 14-member instrumental ensemble, for whom Rose has written not only accompaniment, but also dances with different characters in between the vocal parts.”

Virge Joamets, Estonian magazine Muusika (Music), January 2016



“Rose is a composer who expertly combines old, medieval strict form and links this with the European avant-garde of the 20th century. Listening to the music and reading the text it becomes clear how profound this subject is.   Even if we exclude the Christian context, the mortality of man is constantly stressed as a very powerful image, and this is clearly defined in the musical score.  It becomes especially impressive because of the contemporary aspect of the music, so that this composition is not just a historical creation but has an important message for today. It touches us right now and right here. It asks us to dance here and now.

Ott Kagovere, Eesti Ekspress, 27 January 2016  ●●●●●●●●●◯



“This recording (which) presents no listening problems!   How fitting to record the piece here! (in the Niguliste kirik).  In addition to the traditional strings, brass and woodwind, Rose uses an interesting combination of instruments such as crotales, bagpipes, alto flute and marimba.  This creates a fascinating mix between the late Middle Ages and 20th century.  Through these distinctive colour palettes we find ourselves in a completely different environment for an hour and the final two movements in particular haunted me for the rest of the day. This is special music by a special composer. Soloists and choir present a formidable performance under Rose, and the entire production is spiky and supple at the same time. This is the premiere recording on Toccata Classics for this incisive opus, and the acoustics are truly magnificent, with an enormous depth of sound.


Highest praise!


Emile Stoffels, LUISTER magazine, Holland, June 2016

Rating: 10/10