Introduction

Photo: Mati Mõttus

Photo: Mait Jüriado

Una Corda (in Italian „one string“) is an ensemble unique for bringing together these three multistring instruments: harp, Estonian chromatic kannel and harpsichord.

Established in 2009, the trio’s members are Kristi Mühling (kannel), Liis Viira (harp) and Ene Nael (harpsichord).

The sound of Una Corda may be described as an intimate and delicate colour palette, brightened up by more powerful accents and images. The harpsichord provides a rhythmical impulse and density; the long reverberation of the kannel adds an ethereal quality and brilliance to the upper register, while the harp with its deep low sounds and round timbre complements them.

The repertoire of the ensemble is versatile, with programmes including original music by renowned composers as well as arrangements and even free improvisation. The ensemble has commissioned and performed works by various Estonian composers: Helena Tulve, Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes, Märt-Matis Lill, Liis Viira, René Eespere, Margo Kõlar, Kristjan Kõrver, Elo Masing, Malle Maltis, Mirjam Tally, Lauri Jõeleht, Ülo Krigul, Robert Jürjendal and others. The trio has also made new arrangements of compositions by Ester Mägi, Raimo Kangro, Arvo Pärt, Jaan Rääts and other composers. Since 2015, the ensemble has been exploring the world of free improvisation, also including it in their concert programmes.

Una Corda’s first public concert took place on February 14, 2009 in the Kadriorg Palace in Tallinn, organised by the Estonian Association of Professional Musicians. Since then the ensemble has performed at several music festivals in Estonia, including the Estonian Music Days and Tallinn Music Week. The members also promote their instruments and Estonian music through the ensemble’s lecture-concerts in Estonia and abroad (Sydney Estonian House in Australia, Nostalgia Festival in Poznań, Poland; Estonian School in Stockholm, Sweden).

Outside Estonia, the ensemble has performed at the contemporary harpsichord music festival ProCembalo in Italy (2013), Nordlichter Festival in Berlin (2014), Global Harp Congress in Sydney (2014), alternative chamber music festival Sansusī in Latvia (2017), Nostalgia Festival in Poznań, Poland (2014) and in 2012 at Mirjam Tally’s composer’s evening in Visby, Gotland.

Una Corda has also cooperated with contemporary dance choreographers. In 2009, the ensemble participated as musicians and dancers in the performance Opus tempus (music by Monika Mattiesen, choreographers Mari Mägi and Kaja Lindal). In 2018, in cooperation with the Kadriorg Art Museum they performed in the dance production Metamorphoses of Beauty (choreographer Maria Goltsman), where the music was born from real-time improvisation.

In cooperation with the Estonian Classical Radio, the ensemble has recorded plenty of music for the music fund of Estonian Public Broadcasting. In 2012, the ensemble issued their debut album Una Corda. Their second album will be released shortly.