| Ivan Moody, Gramophone, September 2020

Tõnu Kõrvits is an impressively unpredictable composer. Just when you think that the very brief Azure (2016 17) is becoming formulaic, for example, with its lamenting gestures, it metamorphoses unexpectedly into something strange and archaic-sounding. Hymns to the Nordic Lights (2011) begins like Impressionistic Sibelius before dissolving into luminous shards of melody, and there’s a sense of everything being delicately balanced, as though seen through vapour or, I suppose, in this case, the aurora borealis, a feeling of moving in and out of focus. It is far from being mood music, however, in spite of the fact that it suggests atmospheres so well; it is engaging and colourful. The final movement suggests some kind of gigantic wind harp ruffled, so to speak, by the vibrations of the lights.

Quite different is the three-movement Silent Songs (2015) for bass clarinet and orchestra, gorgeously played by Meelis Vind. It’s softer, more lyrical, and the second movement, ‘Sacred River’, has an oriental tinge. The final movement, ‘Farewell Farewell’, is also the longest, and is as valedictory-sounding as its title suggests. It has this in common with the most recent piece on the disc, Leaving Capri (2018), though they are very different in other respects.

The work that leaves the strongest impression on me is the Dowland-inspired Tears Fantasy (2011), in which echoes of the earlier composer shine through clouds of brass and flurries of strings, though there are also some arresting moments in the earliest piece on the disc, Elegies of Thule (2007). The Estonian National SO play throughout with the greatest of conviction and the glossiest tone, driven on by Risto Joost’s unique understanding of Kõrvits’s work, and the recording is everything one would expect from Ondine.


Tapiola Sinfonietta tarjosi valoisan ja vauhdikkaan Jupiter-sinfonian

| Hannu-Ilari Lampila, Helsingin Sanomat, 14.10.2017

“Virolaisen Risto Joostin johtama Tapiola Sinfonietta oli ihanteellinen instrumentti Jupiter-sinfoniaan. Tuloksena oli valoisa ja vauhdikas esitys, jossa oli dynaaminen tasapaino jatkuvien, nopeiden kontrastien ja lujan motiivis-rakenteellisen yhtenäisyyden välillä.

Energinen ja tarkka Joost poimi milloin pehmein, milloin käskevin elein orkesterista hienoja nyansseja, sytyttäviä rytmiaksentteja, lyyrisiä ja mahdikkaita sointeja.”

“Monipuolinen  Joost on mestari myös nykymusiikissa. Hän loihti orkesterista oudon, kaleidoskooppimaisesti kimmeltävän ja leijailevan sointiatmosfäärin, johon soinniltaan epämääräiset okariinot (ja ilmeisesti myös lootushuilu) toivat eksoottista itäaasialaista sävyä.”



The angelic Permoník choir has touched the heavens in an excellent finale to the Dante Symphony

| Milan Bátor,, 08.09.2017

The inhaling and exhaling of Arvo Pärt versus the fiery meteor of Franz Liszt. This unusual programme from the two composers’ works was performed on Thursday at the St. Wenceslas Music Festival. The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren on Českobratrská Street was filled with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, while the Permoník concert choir settled in the gallery. The walk through the suffering of Marsyas, who was skinned alive, and Dante Alighieri’s inferno and purgation, can begin. (…) Regarding the performance of Lamentate, the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra played superbly with Estonian conductor Risto Joost.

(…) After such a flood of Liszt’s heavenly music, the audience found it hard to breathe for a while. After some time, however, applause sounded, which rightly belonged to the superb Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and the very attentive conductor, Joost, but especially to all the girls of the Permoník concert choir and their two muses: Ms Martina Juríková and Ms Eva Šeinerová. A person does not take such a powerful experience home from church every day – perhaps not even every year.


Still und aller Zeit enthoben

| Karsten Blüthgen, Sächsische Zeitung, July 10 2017

(…) Den Dirigenten Risto Joost, Este wie Pärt, durfte das ostsächsische Publikum bereits als inspirierenden Leiter des MDR-Chores erleben, der er seit 2015 ist. Zuvor wurde der heute 37-Jährige zum Chef des jungen, exzellenten Ensembles aus Tallinn ernannt. Dessen hohe Spielkultur ließ Joost unter dem Gewölbe des Bautzener Doms eindrucksvoll zu Klang werden. (…)

(…) Dieser Abend sah Bach in vitaler Spielfreude, souverän im Umgang mit den Partituren. Bei Pärt bot er übersinnlich schöne Momente. Hier brachten Joost und seine Mitstreiter das Publikum im Dom zum Schweben und ließen eine besondere, baltische Affinität zu dieser Musik ähnlich einer Muttersprache erahnen, das Solistenpaar eingeschlossen.(…)


Clarity and musical intelligence

| Katharina Stork, April 2017

On Sunday, a surreal pianissimo floating through the room opens the concert by the MDR symphony orchestra and radio choir: the programme features works by Mozart. His motet “Ave Verum Corpus” serves as contemplative start. Conductor Risto Joost awakens the sounds of the choir and orchestra with his flowing movements and gives form to the music through the tiniest changes in these flowing movements. These five minutes alone demonstrate the many dynamic nuances of the award-winning choir, supported by the orchestra.

The following “Jupiter” symphony combines Mozart’s ease with flutes and violins with penetrating power in the Tutti. Joost stands as the musical centre. He is absorbed by the music, but at the same time never loses control of his musicians. They willingly respond to and follow every small gesture, because he does not force his way of reading the score onto them, but rather invites them to perform the music together.

The high woodwind players in the allegro vivace are remarkable in their agility during their short interjections interpolations?. The second movement is characterised by the “Cantabile”. The woodwind melodies and strings melt into one unified flow and then go their own separate ways again in the middle part, when the strings perform the swelling ostinato and the melody line is carried by the woodwind. After a playful and dance-like start into the minuet with majestic interjections interpolations? of brass, Joost – with grand gestures – generates a great deal of vigour and splendour in the finale. At the same time, with his precision he prevents the orchestra from rushing during rapid movements. With his own expansive movements he allows himself to be carried through the molto allegro.

In the second part of the concert, Mozart’s mass in c-minor, the choir shines again. The mighty “Kyrie” fills the hall, in the face of which Elisabeth Breuer has to assert herself. However, in the “Christe Eleison” her clear soprano bursts into bloom, its slightly metallic heights easily rising above both choir and orchestra. The “Gloria” is a melodic explosion of all the various voices, during which the choir displays its full volume and admirable flexibility in the forte. Soloist Diana Haller in “Laudamus te” presents her warm mezzo and with impressive speed moves through the coloraturas. The contrast of her voice and deep-throated timbre lend carrying fullness to her and the stable middle register does not diminish the metallic heights. In demanding embellishments and great leaps peppered with intervals she allows her voice to shine with a confidence that is rooted in experience.

After a splendid choir in “Gratias”, Breuer and Haller establish two poles of sound with a bright soprano and deep mezzo in “Domine”, but then blend completely into one through similar tones in the higher realms before excelling each other in the swift coloratura. Above the ostinato of the strings and after the “Miserere”, the choir brings the height of the piano crescendo into bloom and then passes into an effortless forte. Joost knows his singers: he is aware of which button to push in order to create this kind of balanced sound. In the home straight, the “Benedictus”, tenor Benedikt Kristjansson and bass Thomas Tatzl complete the ensemble of soloists and establish a strong male counterpart to the female voices.

Joost balances the instrumental and vocal voices dynamically, with clarity and musical intelligence, and so creates a homogenous sound. In coloratura cascades, the soloists and the choir pick up pace and unleash a stunning forte in the finale – one which deserved a more enthusiastic response from the audience in the well-attended Large Hall.


Tabloid press and golden voices

| Dagmar Hub, Augsburger Allgemeine/Neu-Ulmer Zeitung, April 29, 2017

The Württemberg Chamber Orchestra delights the Kornhaus audience – especially with its encore.

Ulm Rarely does a concert review start with an encore. However, during the fourth concert of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra in the Kornhaus, Estonian conductor Risto Joost demonstrated that he is one of the most innovative young conductors in the world: ‘Kollane Meedia’, loosely translated as ‘tabloid press’, is the third movement of the concert for strings ‘Headline Hues’, composed in 2013 by the 23-year-old Estonian composer Jonas Tarm, and dedicated to the events of the Arab Spring. In this movement, the orchestra theatrically mimes the buzz of an exciting press conference.

Musicians rise from their seats, their instruments seem to ask questions and even the contrabass comes to the fore. Quietly, critical, excited or sometimes moping and nagging, the instruments imitate human voices. Truly this movement is a fascinating and dramatic piece of contemporary music. The passion of Risto Joost while conducting the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra in this unusual piece of contemporary orchestral music was equal to the passion the musicians displayed.

Earlier on, Risto Joost, who is a conductor at the Estonian National Opera, principal conductor of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, art director of the MDR radio choir and art director of the Philharmonic Association in Tallinn, had conducted Tchaikovsky’s string sextet ‘Souvenir de Florence’ with the same passion; after the final fugue, sweat was pouring down the face of the 36-year-old conductor from Tallinn: the fullness of the sound of the 40 minute musical piece prompted thunderous applause from the audience, which lasted for minutes.

Elegiac cantilena, an air of Italy in the pizzicato moments and an allegretto moderato, to which Freddie Mercury must have reverted back to in 1975 for the Scaramouche part of the rock song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – Risto Joost guided the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra with fascinating energy through the work. In the first part, Joost introduced Estonian composer Heino Eller to the audience, with five romantic pieces for string orchestras. Eller is considered the father of Estonian orchestral music.

Eponymous for the concert evening – ‘Stimmengold/Golden Voices’ – was the Hamburg soprano Mojca Erdmann, who breathed life into six songs by Schubert with her warm voice. In her white-golden evening dress she interpreted Goethe‘s ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ with convincing mime and gesture and brought to life the scenes of Matthias Claudius’ ‘An die Nachtigall’/‘To the nightingale’ and Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart.

Concert At the fifth concert by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra this season, Sabine Meyer (clarinet) and Dag Jensen (bassoon) will perform as soloist on Thursday 18 May.


Souvenirs and other fireworks

| Jürgen Kanold, Südwest Presse, April 29, 2017

Classic Estonian conductor Risto Joost invigorated the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra. Celebration in the Kornhaus.

‘Souvenir de Florence’ is a string sextet by Peter Tchaikovsky, and that is exactly how it sounds: very nice. Pleasant palm court music. However, conductor Risto Joost did not bring souvenirs to the 4th Ulm Concert by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra; it was more like dynamite. The performance was captivating. From the first beat the musicians played with full alertness; they were on the edge: the allegro con spirito with intensified tempo, the finale extremely lively. At no time did the Tchaikovsky piece come across as merely effect-seeking, rather musically existential. In the adagio Joost magically created the most beautiful cantilenas with his string orchestra – cellist Gabriel Faur was in a class of his own.

36-year-old Joost comes from Estonia; he is also a countertenor and truly an icon in his hometown Tallinn; since 2015, he has managed the MDR radio choir in Leipzig. One might call it a famous Estonian choir school: Joost breathes with the orchestra. He demonstrates enormous body tension and has great charisma and witticism. Well, if Joost is not one of the aspirants in Heilbronn to succeed the departing principal conductor Rüben Gazarian in 2018 ….

Great Schubert Opera

‘Stimmengold/Golden Voice’ was the title of the concert: the golden blond Mojca Erdmann wore fitting golden shoes, her evening dress enhanced by gold applications. Her performance of six songs by Franz Schubert was brilliant. This certainly was not tender romantic but indeed great opera, with the not particularly exciting string orchestra accompaniment (by Hans-Klaus Langer). What one could admire was the emotional and in every situation flowing first-class soprano. The opera’s start made a mini-drama out of ‘Gretchen am Spinnrad’, and Mojca Erdmann twice sung the ‘Heidenröslein’ – even bolder and boisterously in the encore.

Risto Joost also brought two works from his home country with him: at the beginning, five beautiful pieces from the late Romantic period for string orchestra by Heino Eller (1887-1970), an elegiac and impressive presentation, especially the ‘Heimatliche Weise/Homelike Tone’. Then followed theatrical fun by Jonas Tarm, ‘Yellow Media’: a string orchestra imitated a turbulent press conference, followed by lots of cheers.




| Estonian Music Information Centre, 03.10.2016

On October 1, International Music Day, the laureates of music awards of the year 2016 were announced. Ceremony took place in Kumu Art Museum with the concert of Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Risto Joost. The stage director of the evening was Veiko Tubin, the host was Priit Pius.

Laureates of Estonian Music Council Music Prizes:
Composition Prize: Ülo Krigul
Interpretation Prize: Vello Pähn
Prize for significant and outstanding activities in music sphere: Tiina Mattisen

Laureates of the Awards of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia:
Ain Agan – original and outstanding creative activity
Ensemble U: – pithful journeys on contemporary music scene
Estonian Music Information Centre – two decades of precise and diverse distributing and collecting of music information
Imbi Tarum – excellent creatyive activity both in Estonia and abroad
Jüri Kruus – passionate contribution in preserving Estonian vocal art
Kalle Randalu – brilliant and outstanding creative activity
Maria Kõrvits – successful creative activity with the high achievement like the first prize in the youth category  at the Rostrum of Composers held in Wroclaw in 2016
Priit Kuusk – continuous collecting of chronicle of Estonian music life
Risto Joost– performances of Estonian music at home and abroad


В Петербурге завершился юбилейный фестиваль «Музыкальный Олимп»

| «Ведомости» , 08.06.2015

“На заключительном концерте юбилейного «Олимпа» в Концертном зале Мариинского театра за пульт театрального оркестра встал исключительно одаренный Ристо Йоост (лауреат конкурса имени Йормы Панулы, 2012). Для затравки «врезали» иронично-шаловливую, стремительную увертюру к «Кандиду» Бернстайна. И это было правильно – в зале сразу же воцарилась атмосфера праздника.

Четкий жест, внятная мануальная техника, открытая, дружелюбная манера общения с музыкантами и необыкновенно точное чувство формы сразу же привлекли к эстонскому дирижеру симпатии зала. Солистам было с ним комфортно и спокойно; Ристо Йоост оказался чуток к каждому исполнительскому импульсу, умел поймать и отрефлексировать любое, едва уловимое понижение интонации или замедление темпа.”


With the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival

| Eckernförder Zeitung, 12.08.2013

“The 33-year-old Estonian Risto Joost conducts with tremendous preciseness altough without baton. His body tense from tip to toe, he incites the orchestra to beautifully gentle and explicitly precise cues and blooming sounds. He passed on his positive attitude to the musicians. The five pieces for string orchestra by Estonian composer Heino eller, one of the founders of the Estonian symphony and chamber music, was dominated by the strings.”


Captivating expressiveness

| Hele-Maria Taimla, SIRP/ Estonian national weekly cultural newspaper

“This year’s season opening concert of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra marked the orchestra’s 20th anniversary. It was also Risto Joost’s first concert as the TCO’s principal conductor. Just a few days ago, the orchestra had been awarded the Estonian Music Council’s prize for interpretation. The atmosphere in the House of Blackheads was dignified and the audience gathered in the hall were expectant.”

“There is an air of mutual understanding and respect between Risto Joost and his orchestra, creating good grounds for subtle and refined performances. The fruits of their cooperation were immediately visible in how sensitively the orchestra reacted to Joost’s rubato and the changes in dynamics. Throughout the concert, the audience was repeatedly delighted with a beautifully silent piano, or with a forte that gave the impression of twice as many players on the stage. In addition to a clear dynamic plan, Joost’s conducting also displays narrativity: he infuses the piece with expressive dynamics and gives emphatic cues to both the sections and soloists, valuing players as characters whose entries and exits form an important part of the story. The symbiosis of musical narrative and delicate dynamics is what makes the music so enchanting and allows it to captivate the audience. And this is exactly what it did.”


Ohne Frantz und Taktstock

| Julia Lucas, newspaper inSüdhüringen/ Germany

Der erst 33 Jahre alte Joost – in hiesigen Gefilden noch ein Unbekannter, wenn er auch unlängst im Schleswig-Holstein-Musikfestival zu sehen und zu hören war – ist Kapellmeister an der Estonia National Opera in Tallinn. Ein echter Theaterdirigent, was er mit Richard Wagners Tannhäuser-Ouvertüre unter Beweis stellte und das zu Beginn des Konzerts noch skeptische Publikum entschieden und auf der Stelle für sich zu gewinnen vermochte. Das CCS bebte nach diesem Auftakt, der in seiner musikalischen Geschlossenheit und Dramatik seinesgleichen suchte. Joost leitete energisch und kraftvoll und mit der Bescheidenheit des sicheren Handwerkers die Musiker aus über 40 verschiedenen Nationen und fünf Kontinenten und führte sie zu Einigkeit, Stimmigkeit, Fülle und einer gerade bei den Bläsern erstaunlichen Weichheit des Klangs.


Ohne Taktstock durch die Welt der baltischen Musik

| mla, Eckernförder Zeitung/ Germany

Der 33-jährige gebürtige Este Risto Joost dirigierte obgleich ohne Taktstock mit unglaublicher Präzision. Den Körper von Kopf bis Fuß gespannt, mit atmenden Bewegungen und Magie stiftete er das Orchester zu schönen weichen, ausgesprochen präzisen Einsätzen und aufblühender Klangentwicklung an. Sein positiver Ausdruck übertrug sich auf die Musiker. Die fünf Stücke für Streichorchester des estnischen Komponisten Heino Eller, einer der Gründer der estnischen Sinfonie und Kammermusik, dominierten noch die hohen Streicher.