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Latvian choir rescues BBC's War and Peace soundtrack

LSM - Latvian Television is about to start broadcasting the miniseries "War and Peace" by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), partially filmed in Latvia. Now news have surfaced about the series' soundtrack, which it turns out was rescued by the choir "Latvia" at the very last moment, reported Latvian Radio.

The British and Lithuanian co-production, adapted for television from Lev Tolstoy's eponymous novel by screenwriter Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Harper, was mainly shot in Russia and Lithuania, but parts of it were also filmed at the impressive Rundāle palace in Latvia.

A lesser-known fact is that the choral voices in the series' soundtrack are sung by the State Academic Choir "Latvia". The choir's director Māris Ošlejs told Latvian Radio that the cooperation sprung as he's acquainted with Simon Phipps, the brother of the author of the film's score Martin Phipps.

As co-op with Russian choirs fell through, the Latvian choir came to the rescue at the very last moment. Ošlejs said that the choir artists had recorded all the choral parts last fall and had to assure producers that their Russian diction does not sound strange.

The recording was made a few months ago at the studio of Latvian Radio 1, supervised by a British conductor and composer, as well as sound engineer Varis Kurmiņš.

"We have some experience - in 2002 we cooperated with British composer Richard Harvey, back then we wrote the soundtrack to a film about Martin Luther. [..] In the case of the BBC series "War and Peace" the accompaniment was recorded by the Welsh BBC orchestra, and we recorded the choral part here," Kurmiņš said.

The final recordings were carried out in January 2016, said Kurmiņš.

According to Kurmiņš, both Latvian choirs and Latvian Radio's sound wizards have a lot of experience working with movie professionals. Perhaps the best-known recording of the "Latvia" Academic Choir is for the Tom Tykwer movie "Perfume".

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