Estonia is the name of Richard Theisen’s new album. The way he describes this country’s forest-clad landscape, its culture and identity is nothing short of incredible! In little less than 30 minutes, we get to know about Estonia’s geography, its myths and aspirations. Theisen’s well-crafted arrangements and melodic genius make for an informative yet calming musical journey. We also get to know the concept of kura skymning (pronounced cure-ah-skim-ning). Read on and learn what it is all about!
Richard Theisen is an internationally recognized, Grammy® Award-winning composer, vocalist, and keyboard virtuoso. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, his impressive musical abilities were evident from early childhood. As a teenager he founded the renowned rock band “Daniel,” a popular Texas group that got a single released nationwide on Paramount Records in 1974. In 1985, he was presented with a Grammy® Award for his contribution to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack LP and he was inducted into the annual Hall of Fame roster in “Buddy Magazine.”
Throughout the 90s, he continued to be a high-in-demand professional pianist, singer, and entertainer. But his truly outstanding talent has always been his composing acumen. In 2011, he formed Theisen Productions to produce instrumental music for use in television and film. In 2019 he released his first New Age and jazz-influenced album, Mayan Stars, to rave reviews. In 2022, he and his talented wife, Gina, started NRZen, their YouTube channel dedicated to providing spiritual-oriented audio and video productions aimed at raising the vibrational consciousness of the planet. In 2023, he released the album Elysium.
The Estonia album opener is called Freya’s Tears. It is about the Norse mythology goddess of beauty, fertility and war. Freya’s husband Odin is lost, and she cries tears of gold as she goes looking for him. The track starts with gentle piano and strings. The orchestral mid-part with flute is amazing! Thanks to Theisen’s compositions, we feel Freya’s pain and despair, but also her love. It is a very promising opening!
Next out is Brezien Dreams. Brizo is a little-known Greek goddess of dreams and oceans. Her name is derived from the Greek “brizein” (to fall asleep). It starts with a hushed and dreamy instrument, followed by orchestral arrangement and vocal synths. The enigmatic atmosphere is deeply relaxing and a nice contrast to the Freya’s Tears. It underlines the album’s calming qualities.
The title track is a genuine jewel! It is dedicated to Estonia’s Nordic forests. 50 % of the country is covered by woodland, and Estonia makes it come alive before our inner eye. It is a majestic and unforgettable piece that shows Theisen’s abilities as a composer and performer. Naming a composition after a country takes courage, but the result is phenomenal. Bravo!
Goldenwulf picks effortlessly up where Estonia left off, which is quite an achievement. The mysterious mood makes the listener pay attention. The mix of guitar, piano and vocalization, plus a healthy dose of studio wizardry, is incredible! “Wolves are known for their fierce personality,“ writes Theisen. “They also symbolize intuition, loyalty, and intelligence. In ancient times, wolves freely roamed the landscape of Estonia.” We feel close to the mighty wolf simply by listening.
The beautiful Lavinia takes the album in a new direction. Violin, vocalization and castanets paint a lovely picture of a young gypsy girl. Lavinia shows that Estonia’s culture also was influenced by people coming from the south of Europe.
Dedicated to the Estonian River of Love (Armujõgi), Rivermyst flows beautifully. The melody instantly finds its way to the listeners’ heart. The piano and violin duet is a match made in heaven. Rivermyst is one of the finest pieces on the album, a winner from start to finish. On the meditative Nordic Whispers we are back in the deep, lush forests.
Theisen has saved the kura skymning for last. Is a Nordic phrase that translates into “sitting quietly and pondering at Dusk.” “This is a perfect reminder for all fast-living, busy day workers to just calm and slow down at the end of a hectic day,” says Theisen. It is exactly that feeling I get when listening Twilight. The track starts with an eclectic mix of instruments and textures. It is a deeply atmospheric soundscape with a fantastic sounding mandolin center stage. The heavenly vocals ensure that this is a moment worth remembering. Like a “real” twilight, it has a distinct and final ending. If you feel like kura skymning some more, the replay button is never far away.
In conclusion: “We feel free. We’re independent. People can be openly proud of being Estonian. I have a lot of belief in Estonia,” Carmen Kass said. Listening to Richard Theisen’s Estonia, we get a sense of what a beautiful country this is. Estonia is an unforgettable journey thanks to the fantastic melodies and well-made arrangements. I’m sure I’m not the only listener that is reading up on this country’s history and geography thanks to Theisen’s inspiring musical storytelling.
That said, you don’t have to know anything about Estonia to enjoy the album. It is a very well-balanced release, perfect for relaxation, reading and creative work. Each piece on the album is worthy of a single release. I also like how the main instruments change from piano and orchestral arrangement to violin and guitar. It makes it into a very interesting listen.
Let me give you some advice; Try listening to Estonia while you are kura skymning! It makes a great moment perfect.
For more information and music samples, visit soundcloud.com/richard-theisen