When three editions of an album are released in a five-year span, it’s safe to say that the initial expectations have been surpassed. The new edition of Astronomic Panoram is a compliment to the composer and should draw a new array of fans to this deserving work.
Sebastian Wesman plays multiple instruments himself: violin, viola, piano, flute and drums. He is joined here by Martin-Eero Kõressaar (tuba and trumpet), as well as other guest stars on voice. But Wesman’s compositional prowess is the key to his success. Beginning with the trumpet fanfare of the title track, Wesman announces what can rightfully be called a short symphony ~ due to the poetic contributions and solo soprano, nearly an opera. This stately piece dips into elegance again and again, returning to the brass chorus for punctuation.
If it’s hard to place the country of origin, it may be due to the fact that Wesman is from Argentina, yet lives in Estonia. There are not many well-known composers from Estonia, so it’s no surprise that Arvo Pärt is mentioned in the press release. Like the latter composer, Wesman pays close attention to the interplay between sound and space, but is more active in phrasing and tempo. Even the short, soft breakdown of “Elsa” is swiftly filled in by instrumentation, while the drums of “Glory” offer drama to counterbalance the cautious strings. All of these threads converge on “Pact With the Moon”, the album’s most active track and its penultimate offering.
The two spoken word pieces and operatic closer offer a different manner of beauty, but the English-language “Underground Rivers” falls prey to a feature beyond the composer’s control: once one hears the words, the music gains literary definition. The Estonian track “Uttu hääbuv” is different; as few of our readers are likely to speak that language, the mystery is preserved.
Is Astronomic Panoram Wesman’s magnum opus? That wouldn’t be too bad, although we always hope a composer’s best work lies ahead. Since the initial release, he’s also released an album of collected film work (Otros Parámetros), the seeds of which were planted here with “Lágrimas”. This is the better collection, due to its internal coherence; our hope is that a new short symphony will be forthcoming. We’d love to hear how the composer’s sound has developed in the last five years. (Richard Allen)