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Tiensuu: Nemo, Puro, Spiriti / Malkki, Avanti, Et Al

Release Date: 05/12/2009 
Label:  Alba Records   Catalog #: 258   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jukka Tiensuu
Performer:  Kari KriikkuMikko Luoma
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


TIENSUU _nemo. 1 Puro. 2 Spirito 3 Susanna Mälkki, cond; Kari Kriikku (cl); 2 Mikko Luoma (acc); 3 Avanti! Read more class="BULLET12b">• ALBA 258 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 68:35)

In my opinion, nemo is a blob of a piece of music. There are no hard attacks, no percussion, just a mass of sound that ebbs and flows, amorphous clouds of noise punctuated by gentle electronically manipulated chatter. The effect of this 1999 work is very reminiscent of the sort of stuff that we called the avant-garde a generation ago. For those of us who were so inclined, that music offered a refreshing break from formal academic material. Composers such as James Tenney, Alvin Lucier, and even Morton Feldman gave us work that often challenged our notion of what music really is. The problem, then as now, was in making a judgment as to when experimentation translated into true artistic expression, and when it was a self-indulgent manipulation of sound for mere novelty.

In listening to the fascinating music of Finnish composer Jukka Tiensuu, I found myself wandering back and forth between these two esthetics. Puro , commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company in 1989, is perhaps the most conventional work here, a spirited and engaging work for clarinet and small orchestra. The whimsical touches of weirdness in Puro morph into full-on mode in Spirito , written in 2005. Tiensuu is a composer who is not afraid to have fun with music, which is not to say that he is frivolous. Spirito is a kind of balancing act for the listener, who is pulled in and out of different aural atmospheres in an almost dreamlike manner. This five-movement work, running for nearly a half hour, finds Tiensuu working with what is an apparently favorite instrument, the accordion. My only previous encounter with this composer was in music for accordion, music that he wrote for Denis Patkovi? to be intermixed with an accordion transcription of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. That completely delightful recording (Hänssler 98 527) displayed a wonderful imagination that both honored the greatness of Bach and managed to derive something new. Spirito falls somewhere in between the other two pieces on this program in terms of general accessibility, with more palpable structure than nemo , but copious forays into microtonality, rhythmic aberrations, and just plain spaciness.

Jukka Tiensuu is a name I will continue to pay attention to. His imagination and technical skills are highly impressive, taking him to sound vistas that can confound or delight the ear. With continued refinement, control, and maturity, he is surely capable of bringing us much compelling music. He is extremely well served by the musicians on this CD, featuring alert and joyful performances by the two soloists, and committed and rich sounding playing from the ensemble.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Nemo by Jukka Tiensuu
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Concerto for Clarinet "Puro" by Jukka Tiensuu
Performer:  Kari Kriikku (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Finland 
Spiriti by Jukka Tiensuu
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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