A special evening took place last week. Namely, there was an opportunity to listen to pianist Kristjan Randalu give a solo concert in Estonia over four years. The programme was titled „Between Three Plagues“. The performance was recorded for the Classical Radio, so it can be listened to on the web later on. I really recommend it!

But more about music and the musician. Kristjan has been away for Estonia for many years of his life (to be exact, almost 25 years from the time that he was eight years old), which has partly been due to his parents’ decision to leave Estonia towards the end of the 1980s and partly his desire to experience the world. To travel, to study, to live in different places. This way, he has lived in Germany, England, and the USA, and performed in numerous countries all over the world. But a few years ago, Kristjan returned to settle in his homeland. Although he does not actually stay in Estonia a lot as he embarks on several concert tours in a year, necessitated by his freelance musician status. Kristjan said the following about the reasons for his return in an interview to the magazine “Music”: „Over the years, I started to understand that home is the place where they speak Estonian. The Estonian environment is important and dear to me.“

I arrived at the concert venue knowing that Kristjan Randalu is a very highly regarded and trained piano virtuoso, who has travelled and performed a lot, and whose playing style and skill I had only experienced once before – at Intsikurmu music festival in Põlva, where he performed with Vaiko Eplik. But there it was about the collaboration of two musicians and I could not imagine what to expect from the advertised solo performance. I was excited, nevertheless, as I had waited for an opportunity to listen to piano music without any other instrument for a long while. I have to admit, I was not disappointed!

The programme consisted of two parts. In the first half, he performed newer pieces, which he had played only a few times with other musicians, and in the second half, there were older pieces, which are familiar from different records already (Randalu points out the necessity of a record as a business card). Having read in an interview in Sirp just the previous day that Kristjan always leaves room for possible changes while putting together a programme for a concert, I was quite excited to see if I noticed any such changes or not. It seemed, however, that all the pieces were performed as advertised. The titles of the songs themselves showed that something exciting was coming. Special expectation and exhilaration was created by the tracks „Content“, „Snow“ and „Eye to Eye“, as even thinking about these words different worlds of possibility started to emerge in my head. These songs did prove, in the end, to be my favourites. It was hugely exciting to put together the title of the song and the following soundscape. Something in the sound of those titles, the emotions created by them, and the sounds of the songs melted marvellously together and it seemed that these tracks really could not be given different names. This way, „Partly Clouded“ was really partly clouded and partly sunny, „Hinken“ made me feel indescribably erratic, and „Eye to Eye“ brought the relationship and conversations between two people into my mind’s eye. There would be good sides and bad, they would cover more serious subjects as well as lighter, they would look deep into each other’s eyes and enjoy each other’s company. I especially liked the songs, which the musician started by getting inside the piano a little. These completely unexpected and incredibly powerful sounds that introduced the songs were breath-taking. Supposing that the turmoil of the soul can be captured at all.

Looking at the concert more generally, however, I’d put down the folllowing keywords: powerful, precise, melodic, dynamic, pure, high notes taking the thoughts on mysterious roads and wonderfully ringing low notes, alternating and at times repeating themes bringing peace and understanding; trying out explanations, exploring, but at the same time knowing for certain; complicated but still simple; a rich world of sounds and complete mastering of the piano; a lot to say and as a listener unable to understand everything, which one could wish to draw from it; absorbing the world’s delirious fulfilment; capturing Estonia’s disappearing flavour.

As an extra piece, Randalu performed a song, which was full of childhood, for people whose heart beats for Estonia.

It was a pleasantly enjoyable evening.