Erkki-Sven Tuur: Strata
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The album 'Strata' presents large-scale music for orchestral forces from highly-regarded Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür - his Sixth Symphony and Concerto for violin and clarinet. It is Tüür's fifth ECM New Series album with compositions that are, in his words, "abstract dramas in sound, with individual characters and an extremely dynamic chain of events; unfolding in a space that is constantly shifting, expanding and contracting."
Introduced on ECM with the 1996 release 'Crystallisatio', Erkki-Sven Tüür has come to be one of the most celebrated of Estonian composers, after Arvo Pärt probably the most widely-played internationally. 'Strata' an album of great power, recorded in Tallinn at the Estonia Concert Hall, is certain to widen Tüür's following. The album is also an ECM debut for charismatic Estonian conductor Anu Tali and the Nordic Symphony Orchestra (which she co-founded). Originally projected as a Finnish-Estonian undertaking, the orchestra has grown to include outstanding players from 15 countries.
Soloists on "Noesis" are German clarinettist (and composer) Jörg Widmann and his violinist sister Carolin, two of the most distinguished instrumentalists of their generation. Carolin Widman has received praise and prizes for her ECM recordings of Schumann's Violin Sonatas and her 20th century recital disc 'Phantasy of Spring'. An album of Jörg Widmann's compositions is scheduled for New Series release in 2011.
Personnel: Jörg Widmann (clarinet), Carolin Widmann (violin), Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Anu Tali (conductor)
The performances are outstanding...this beautifully recorded and produced disc is without doubt another jewel in Anu Tali's crown. -- International Record Review, (Ivan Moody), January 2011
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Also in Noésis, the second work on this disc, which is a double concerto for clarinet and violin, Tüür seems to sacrifice beauty and eloquence for theories. I quickly lose track. Where is he taking the listener? What point is he trying to make? He calls it vectorial writing, I call it going back to the sixties, which I am done with. I wonder if there are any followers of the school of Boulez and Xenakis out there, who can convince me of the uniqueness or urgency of works like these. Meanwhile I will return to the recently issued, excellently performed, and now for the first time complete Architectonics.
This build up of layers and visceral physicality reminds me of Birtwhistle's "Earth Dances" and the rich chromatic mix, of Lutoslawski. The sense of organic growth is not unlike Magnus Lindberg's big orchestral scores. Tuur uses a variety of tuned and untuned percussion to ground the piece and highlight key points in the work. Tuur lives on a small island, surrounded by the sea and I don't think it is fanciful to suggest that the waves of sound in this and other works of his suggest an affinity with the sea.
"Noesis" is a double concerto for violin and clarinet. It follows the same organic route as the symphony but on a smaller scale. the work charts the drift towards a synergy between two disparate instrumental sounds. there is the semblance of a traditional concerto shape - 3 movements wrapped within the single movement structure. The finale section has more than a hint of dance and jazz: another nod to traditional concerto form. Not such a major creation as the symphony but satisfying nonetheless.
If you're looking for big tunes or something located somewhere between Sibelius and Shostakovich with a hint of Alfred Schnittke thrown in you might have a tough time getting to grips with this music. Yet, for all that, Tuur follows in Sibelius' foot steps in building a symphony with a sense inevitable organic growth.
"Strata" is a yet another big boned protein rich nordic symphony - a very good one at that. We're blessed to have so many gifted and accomplished contributors to the genre in the Baltic and Scandinavian region. This recording is a terrific showcase for the composer so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
the nordics composers have a sound beauty than no others have.
The time extended and the nature are presents here like in the last work's by Magnus Lindberg or Einojuhani Rautavaara !