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The Estonian violinist Mihkel Kerem (born in Tallinn in 1981) is familiar as a performer in Britain as well as at home; he is also a prolific composer, with over one hundred works to his credit, three symphonies among them. Hardly surprisingly, he has written for his own instrument, including a concerto and these four sonatas. 

CD CoverThe First an astonishing achievement for a thirteen-year-old and the Second hardly less surprising from a fifteen-year-old composer. Kerems style is powerful and direct, reminiscent of Prokofiev in its steely strength and motoric energy. This is one of a series of projected recordings of Estonian music on Toccata Classics, following on earlier discs of works by Ester Mägi and Veljo Tormis.

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The three-movement Third (2003) and the Lamento for viola and strings (2008–9) lie downstream from Shostakovich and Boris Tishchenko, whereas the String Sextet (2004), cast in a single half-hour span, has its musical starting-point and initial poetic impulse in Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht but also manifests the polyphonic lyricism of Strauss’ Metamorphosen.

All three works are concerned with the expression of human emotions in music, in the Third Symphony and Lamento with the struggle of the individual voice against oppressive ideology.

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