LEPO SUMERA (1950-2000)
The late Lepo Sumera was one of the most brilliant personalities in Estonian music. I am convinced that his symphonic heritage will take its place on concert platforms all over the world. His music, always so multi-layered, dramatic and richly coloured, speaks to listeners in a very intense manner.
Erkki-Sven Tüür (February 2002)
Sumera’s mastery of instrumental colour was already evident in 1972, in his first orchestral score, In memoriam. His later adoption of modal harmony and melodic lines – inspired, in part, by regilaul – combined with his acute awareness of sound-colour to impart a timeless quality to much of his music: it often seems to shimmer, to hover weightlessly in some vast space. Yet it is also capable of surges of primal energy and force. His music is beginning to command an international audience, though it has yet to be given a fair hearing in Britain.
Martin Anderson (The Independent, 11 August 2000)
Depth of emotion beneath a glittering surface, sharp intelligence displayed as playfulness, humorous and yet direct in expression: all of these in music and in person.
William Sweeney (from programme notes for his Remembering Lepo for string quartet, premiered in Glasgow, 1 October 2000 )
There is an abundance of sound poetics in Estonian contemporary music. Sumera's music is distinctive because under the spell of his sounds time does not stop, there is some kind of an indicator light in it. And the intoned imagery which surfaces from this spell seems to resemble something, a style world. Like an aroma which evokes a memory.
Evi Arujärv (Postimees, 9 May 2000)
Lepo Sumera seems to have found a soulmate in John Adams. Although they have never met, each, upon hearing the other’s music, was struck by the similarities, according to [Charles] Amirkhanian.
Margaret M. Barela (Musical America, January 1989)
A critic for a Russian music magazine noted that Sumera's music “has an imagery that evokes associations with many phenomena of Estonian art – for instance, lyrical landscapes and fine pictures of nature and poetry”.
Sumera's music builds, however, from simple, peaceful initial ideas into episodes of great contrasts, and thoughts of Glass et al. are put to rest.
Stephen Ellis (Fanfare, January/February 1995, Volume 18, Number 3)
For me Lepo Sumera embodied an ideal of a composer – musically highly gifted and highly professional, he had very diverse cultural interests combined with the qualities of a shrewd psychologist to understand people around him. His range of emotions was genuinely Shakespearean – from very tender to subtly mocking to utterly uncompromising. /—/
I don't believe that without these qualities one can become a great composer and write works which in their best moments make people amazed and happy. I consider that Lepo is important to Estonian music, equal in his emotional and intellectual impact and his professionalism to Tubin or Pärt. Depending on one's taste in music one can prefer one or the other, but the magnitude of his achievement is just the same.
Eino Tamberg (Sirp, 9 June 2000)