Ancient and modern influences entwine with an austere elegance in the music of Estonian composer Helena Tulve. ‘Reya hadas a’ala’ employs Yemenite Jewish text and melody, two countertenors occupying a strospheric space where they blend into the high, keening sibilance of Ensemble Hortus Musicus’ period strings. [...] Tulve continues to explore the higher registers throughout the album, with the regional nyckelharpa featured on the title track, and the violins of ‘L’Equinoxe de l’àme’ delivering a thousand tiny slashing cuts.
Andy Gill, The Independent
Estonia continues to produce a wealth of composers out of all proportions to its size and population, and Helena Tulve (b 1972) is clearly one with whom to reckon: Four of the works on this ‘portrait’ disc are vocal, yet this hardly signifies uniformity of expression – hence the sheer timbral allure drawn from an early music consort with the setting of a Yemenite Jewish text in ‘Reyah hadas ‘ala’ (‘The Perfume of the Myrtle Rises’), or expressive acuity conjured from the metaphysical riddles of ‘silences/larmes.’ [...] ‘Extinction de choses’ might seem out of place but both in its conception and realisation follows on naturally from the above. In its evoking the ‘extinction of things seen’, it looks to the earlier orchestral music of Kaija Saariaho in its dense textures that take on greater harmonic focus prior to a morendo ending on the most poetic of dissonances. The orchestra do it justice under Olari Elts, with the remaining works no less finely realised; good to hear the unmistakable voice of Arianna Savall in a context which differs only in relative terms. The recordings are unmistakably ECM in their distanced yet atmospheric ambience.
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone