Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 6,
Anu Tali, cond; Nordic SO,
Jorg Widman (cl); Carolin Widmann (vn)
ECM NEW B0015149-02 (53:05)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (b.1959) is an Estonian composer who doesn’t fit the Pärtian mold of mystical/modal that is associated with much new Baltic music. The notes to this release refer to him as a
“neo-modernist,” and that description has some validity, so long as one doesn’t assume the music is a throwback to mid-20th-century serialism. Rather, it is “modern” basically because it is more abstract than some of the more sacred and poetic variants from his region. Tüür writes music that is highly constructed, though the motivation behind this structuring is to suggest natural phenomena rather than to celebrate cerebral complexities. The music suggests vast expanses and processes of growth. Again, the notes say that he is involved primarily with sound as an iconic structural device, and yes, that’s true to a degree, though Tüür, at least to my ear, is not a composer who uses timbre as his primary material to the exclusion of others. Rather, the
of color and harmony creates the iconic sonic landmarks of the music (to my ear there’s a connection in his harmonic practice to overtone relations, but it doesn’t sound like the French Spectralists, either).
The 2007 Symphony is a powerful work, over a half hour. The gradual developmental strategies suggest both classic Minimalism and Sibelius, though without sounding like either. For me it’s best when it is more relaxed and open; the very loud and energetic middle, while often exhilarating, doesn’t always sound necessary in its activity. But the conclusion, which feels like a slowly turning whirlpool, or the repeated rise and fall of tides, becomes hypnotic.
(2005) is a double concerto for clarinet and violin, and I find it remarkable. Simply put, the two instruments from section to section fall into complementary ostinati, which repeat almost as though they were set on digital delay. At the same time, small changes are always occurring within each cycle. The orchestra tends to derive its motivic palette from their material, creating vast sonic tapestries that can be playful, delicate, contemplative, or athletic. This is one of the most interesting uses of musical repetition I’ve heard in quite some time, all the more so because it’s so self-evident. The magic comes from it being so obvious yet so seductive.
So one work I admire, one I love. A good batting average for this composer, who’s obviously reaching his full command of his vision and practice. Performances are outstanding.
FANFARE: Robert Carl
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 6 "Strata" by Erkki-Sven Tüür
Nordic Symphony Orchestra
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