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Album Review: Estonia
Richard Theisen
Cover image of the album Estonia by Richard Theisen
Richard Theisen
2023 / Richard Theisen
29 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Estonia is the third album of original music from Grammy-winning composer Richard Theisen, following Mayan Stars (2019) and Elysium (2023). The eight instrumental tracks on the album were inspired by the Northern European country of Estonia, its landscapes and its folklore. The tracks are varied in instrumentation and are mostly ambient and dreamy. Adding even more depth and meaning to the music is the series of videos Richard and his wife, Gina, have created for each track. Beautifully done, some are mostly nature videos and some include personifications of the characters in the tales the music was inspired by. Estonia is quite an ambitious project and is often stunning!

Richard Theisen was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and showed signs of his exceptional musical abilities from a very early age. He released his first single in 1974 with his teen rock group, Daniel, and won a Grammy in 1985 for his contributions to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack LP. In 2011, he formed Theisen Productions to produce instrumental music for use in television and film. Last year, Richard and Gina Theisen formed NRZen, their YouTube channel "dedicated to providing spiritual-oriented audio and video productions aimed at raising the vibrational consciousness of the planet."

Estonia begins with "Freya's Tears," a beautiful piece for piano and strings that tells the story of Freya's search for her husband, Odin, weeping golden tears of despair as she looks for him. The tears that fell to earth turned to pure gold and those that fell into the sea turned into amber. It's fascinating how the piano expresses a feeling of determination and moving forward while the strings express loss and despair - a great beginning! "Brezien Dreams" refers to a Greek goddess of dreams and oceans. Ethereal wordless vocals are hypnotic behind the strings and ambient washes of sound. The title track is a gently-flowing piece for piano and orchestra that feels very much like the ebb and flow of a peaceful ocean. I love the video for "Goldenwulf," which focuses on a pair of beautiful wolves in a snowy, mountainous landscape. Acoustic guitar, piano, voices and light orchestration create musical magic! "Lavinia" is "dedicated to the 900 or so gypsies that roamed the Estonian landscape." Violin, Spanish guitar, wordless vocals and some hand percussion suggest exotic gypsy images. "Rivermyst" is another favorite video and my favorite track on the album. Like the title suggests, the images are of mists hanging over a beautifully calm river. Piano and strings move gently and with grace, soothing the mind and spirit. "Nordic Whispers" is very ambient, mysterious and meditative, and is dedicated to the majestic forests of Estonia. The album closes with "Twilight." In the liner notes for the album, Theisen describes the piece: "Kura skymning (pronounced cure-ah-skim-ning) is a Nordic phrase that literally translates into ‘sitting quietly and pondering at dusk’. A perfect reminder for all fast-living, busy day workers to just calm and slow down at the end of a hectic day and take in natural beauty and reflect on ones day. Just close your eyes, take some deep breaths and let your thoughts wander. We are certain that if you embrace Kura skymning, it will work wonders for you." Guitar, strings and wordless vocals surround the listener with relaxing warmth and soul-soothing beauty. It's a great ending to an excellent album!

Estonia is available from Richard Theisen's website as well as from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming platforms including Spotify. The videos are available on YouTube. Don't miss this one!
September 11, 2023