Consonant Works first recording, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1996 was followed by Grieg's A Minor Piano Concerto in 1997, Rakhmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1998 and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1999. These performances received favorable reviews:
"These four piano concertos are played by a wonderful Estonian pianist of tremendous virtuosity and heart-felt musicianship. You will want to hear more and more of Indrek Laul". David Dubal, The Julliard School.
"The Romantic Piano Concertos with pianist Indrek Laul are big and bold…. The recorded sound highlights the brilliant piano while keeping the orchestra well involved." Philip Traugott, BMG Classics.
"Laul's versions of these well-loved pillars of the classical piano repertory are not only excellent and scrupulously faithful to the composers' written intentions, they are fully competitive with performances by such great pianists of the century as Richter, Gilels and Horowitz." George Birnbaum's Classical CD Scout.
"By whatever magic…be it the fine players, their spacious performance environment, the superb engineering…these discs involve us with the same energy found in live performances. The interpretations are stylish yet very individualistic…a grand listening experience." Michael Barone, Minnesota Public Radio.
These were followed by a two CD set of Indrek Laul's favorite solo compositions of Franz Liszt including the monumental B Minor Sonata, The Two Legends, Benediction of God In Solitude, a number of Transcendental Etudes and other Liszt piano favorites.
In 2006 Consonant Works recorded the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, with Indrek Laul, Arvo Volmer and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.
Estonia Hall, the home of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, and the venue for Consonant Works recordings, has played a dramatic role in the cultural and political life of Estonia. A Northern European nation of 1.5 million people, Estonia is bounded on the west by the Baltic Sea, on the north by the Gulf of Finland, on the east by Russia and on the south by its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania.
The history of Estonia has been a constant struggle with invaders, having been dominated since the 13th century by Danes, Germans, Poles, Swedes and Russians. In April 1919 the Constituent Assembly, meeting in Estonia Hall, adopted a Declaration of Independence from Russia. Independence was short lived when, following secret provisions of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the USSR invaded Estonia in 1940. In 1941 Germany invaded Estonia only to be replaced in 1944 by the USSR bringing a totalitarian reign of terror to bear upon the Baltic States.
As the Soviet Empire weakened, 1987 brought the first public demonstrations against Soviet rule. In 1988 Estonia Hall was the site of meetings to create a plan of action to regain independence. 1988 also marked the beginning of the Singing Revolution as public gatherings included the singing of banned patriotic songs. The Singing Revolution culminated in the choral concert Eestimaa Laul on September 11, 1988 when 300,000 people gathered in Tallinn at the site of the historic Estonian Song Festivals where a demand for restoration of independence was proclaimed. The carefully orchestrated step by step process continued despite fear that it might elicit a Soviet military response. In August 1989 a 400 mile unbroken chain of one million people formed running from Tallinn Estonia through Riga Latvia to Vilnius Lithuania demanding freedom for the Baltic States.
The bloody Soviet response came in January 13, 1991 in Lithuania and a week later in Latvia, but the Soviets lacked the will for a major assault on the Baltic Nations. The coup of August 19, 1991 in the USSR removed Gorbachev from power. On August 20, 1991 Estonia asserted national independence. A second coup followed days later, lead by Boris Yeltsin. On August 24, 1991 a crumbling USSR acknowledged the independent Republic of Estonia.
Despite a turbulent history, Estonia has maintained its rich cultural heritage, including the unique Estonian language.
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Estonian Boys' Choir