WORKS FOR SOLO INSTRUMENT(S) AND ORCHESTRA


Cello Concerto No 2 "Labyrinths of Life"

2022/2023

31'

Solo Cello, 223(3=B.Cl)2, 4331, Timp.+3, Harp, Str.

Fp. Nicolas Altstaedt, Bamberger Symphoniker, cond. Thomas Dausgaard

March 8th 2024 Konzerthalle, Joseph-Keilberth-Saal. Bamberg

Commissioned by: Bamberger Symphoniker, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra (London)

Publisher: Edition Peters / Wise Music Group


Program note

I know there is no straight road

No straight road in this world

Only a giant labyrinth

Of intersecting crossroads

 

Federico Garcia Lorca

 

All three movements of this concerto (Dark, Deep, Light) are performed attacca. The first movement explores the low register of cello, with the solo line moving reaching its heights alongside explosive orchestral passages.

The second movement brings the soloist to the centre of introspection with reflections of the outside world. The cadenza - which may be somewhat surprising given the percussive techniques of the cello - and the following orchestral taking over could be seen as a certain overcoming of the crisis. The last movement represents inner liberation and the sparkling joy of perceiving it. Before the end, the soundscape becomes more and more airy and ethereal. Is it the end or a new beginning? 

Erkki-Sven Tüür

 

Reviews

World Premiere

8.03. 2024 Nicolas Altstaedt, Bamberger Symphoniker, cond. Thomas Dausgaard

Bamberg

 

(---) Hielt der Dirigent die Bamberger Symphoniker und den Solisten Nicolas Altstaedt, wie so oft an diesem abend, in ihrem hoch engagierten Spiel an, hielten nicht nur sie inne, sondern anscheinend das ganze Publikum mit ind viele den Atem an.

(---)

Publikum jubelt beim Konzert der Bamberger Symphoniker

Auf diese Weise mit freien Ohren ausgestattet, konnte man sich der Urauffürung des Cellokonzerts Nr. 2 "Labyrinths of Life" Erkki-Sven Tüürs, übrigens ein Auftragswerk des Symphoniker u.a., rückhaltlos öffnen. Wie gelungen sie war, erschloss sich nicht nur aus dem Jubel des Publikums, sondern auch daraus, wie sichtlich gerührt der Komponist den Solisten wie den Dirigenten umarmte.

Am schönsten freilich der kecke, fast lausbübische Blick, den Nicolas Altsaedt nach dem letzten Strich Dausgaard zuwarf, in dem gewaltige Freude übers Gelingen sich mischte mit dem übermütigen Glücksgefühl eines, der tollkühn und oft dem Scheitern nah bis an die Grenzen seines grossartigen Könnens mutig agiert hatte und alles gewonnen.

In den drei Sätzen des Konzerts, die "Dark", "Deep" und "Light" überschrieben sind, fordert Tüür alles von den Musikern, viel vom Publikum. Eine immense Fülle an Klängen und Klangballungen mit plötzlichen dynamischen und agogischen Wechseln begegnete schon im ersten Satz, in denen der Solist tief erwägend manchmal unterzugehen droht, sich freikämpft und herausfordernd seinen Part behauptet.

Dausgaard führt Symphoniker und Zuschauer gleichermassen

Wie tumultuarisch sich auch zuweilen Tuttigebirge auftürmten mit Clusterklängen, Holzblocktrommelgetrappel, singenden Becken, schabend, knarzend, druckvoll gestrichenen Saiten, Harfenschüssen, Hornsignalen und vielem mehr: Es fehlte nie die Klarheit, weil Dausgaards ordnende Hände den Symphonikern wie den Zuhörern wunderbar sprechend Anhaltspunkte in diesem kunstvoll angelegten Labyrinth gaben und wachsames Mitgehen ermöglichten.

Besonders faszinierte die Qualität des Stücks, Altstaedts überragende technische Fähigkeiten bis ins Letzte zu fordern, ohne dass wilde Sprünge, Doppelgriffe, perkussive Passagen, Flageolettsingen und vieles mehr kalt virtuos wirkten, sondern stets vielsagend, ja vielsprachig, tief menschlich und zum Schluss zu immer frecher und freier und frölicher.

(---)

9.03. 2024  Rolf-Bernhard Essig / Fränkischer Tag



Flute Concerto "Lux Stellarum"

Dedicated to Emmanuel Pahud

2021

25'

Solo Flute, 2233,4331, Timp.+3, P-no, Harp, Str.

Fp: Emmanuel Pahud, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi

May 26th 2022  Philharmonie, Berlin

Commissioned by: Berliner Philharmoniker, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich

Publisher: Edition Peters

Berliner Philharmoniker / Digital Concert Hall video: https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53798

Program note

I have always wanted my music to invigorate the imagination of the audience. The titles I have given to my compositions also serve the same purpose; they should guide the listener’s train of thought onto certain paths and hopefully not seem like superficial illustrations. In any case, this flute concert is not programme music in its ordinary sense and I am not trying to describe cosmic processes or the movements of celestial bodies.

On the other hand, I also wish to push the thoughts of the audience towards new unfathomable dimensions. Once, I saw a midnight landscape bathing in starlight in Damaraland, Namibia; there was no moon, and the Milky Way glimmered across the sky like a glowing blue cloud. All the stars were brighter and bluer, not yellow like above my home island Hiiumaa – there is also no light pollution, but the atmospheric conditions are entirely different…

In these moments, the inability of man to actually grasp the scope of the universe, both in time and space, becomes particularly obvious. This emotion, the sense of solemn awe and wonder, and also a sort of eeriness is what Lux Stellarum is about.

The flute is like a lonely spiritual voyager moving around in his imagination between unfathomable temporal and spatial dimensions, trying to penetrate the borders of perception. Can we sense the movement of “dancing asteroids” and “floating galaxies”, and the lifespan of stars? Is the possibility of our existence in a timeframe similar to that of the stars one of our deepest and most desirable dreams?

All great civilisations have interpreted the starlit sky – even our veins are full of “stardust” and the notion that we are part of all this should increase our responsibility to this magnificent planet we are lucky to live on. It should make us humble in the profoundest sense of the word. These are the thoughts that accompanied me when writing this concert for the fantastic flutist Emmanuel Pahud.

 

Translation: Pirjo Jonas

Reviews

Abravanel Hall, Utah. USA  Emmanuel Pahud, flute. Utah Symphony. cond. Thierry Fischer

 

(---) However, it was the unique sonic world created by the Tüür that made the biggest splash.  

Tüür wrote Lux Stellarum (“Light of the Stars”) specifically for Pahud, who played the world premiere last May with the Berlin Philharmonic, where he serves as principal flutist. Watching Pahud’s organic and charismatic performance Friday night, it was easy to see him as Tüür’s muse. However, the piece does more than showcase the soloist’s technical prowess and musicality; it also pushes the sonic boundaries of the flute and the orchestra, creating an engaging, mind-expanding experience for the listener.

“Fading Stardust,” the first of four contiguous movements, begins with twittering flurries in the flute punctuated by runs in the xylophone and harp.  Muted trumpets and flutes playing harmonics enter, and an otherworldly orchestral backdrop slowly develops. While most concerti set up a friendly competition between orchestra and soloist, Tüür’s orchestra serves as the flute’s home base. After a series of cascading melodic figures that explore the limits of the instrument’s range and tone, the flute returns to rest on a bed of warm, ethereal strings and winds.

The other movements have similarly astronomical names—“Dancing Asteroids,” “Litany of the Dying Stars,” and “Floating Galaxies”—but Lux Stellarum is more than a programmatic piece about the night sky. In his notes, Tüür said the piece is about “the inability of man to actually grasp the scope of the universe,” and it achieves this by having the soloist wander through exotic orchestral colors and unexpected melodic and rhythmic turns. The percussion section plays a central role in the drama, with the timpanists and three percussionists staying busy throughout the piece playing instruments that include blocks, gongs, xylophones, bells, rain sticks, and hand-held wind chimes.

Pahud displayed a wide variety of tones from sweetly melodic, to aggressive and percussive; the extended techniques he employed included whispers and popping sounds made by the soloist’s lips on the mouthpiece. The solo flute was particularly intriguing when interacting melodically with the other flutes in the orchestra, which, except for the occasional use of harmonics, used more of a traditional technique. 

The mood of the piece ranges from cold and abstract to contemplative and dreamy to aggressive and terrifying. Fischer’s attention to articulation, phrasing, and tempi accentuated the emotional sweep. While its tonality and harmonic language was in the abstract modernist tradition, Lux Stellarum remained engaging throughout its 25 minutes, prompting a raucous standing ovation and five curtain calls from the appreciative audience. (---)

Utah Arts Review. Rick Mortensen. 22. 04. 2023

https://utahartsreview.com/2023/04/tuur-premiere-achieves-liftoff-in-utah-symphonys-northern-program/


 

Tonhalle, Zürich. Emmanuel Pahud, flute. Tonhalle Orchester. cond. Paavo Järvi

Jan. 18th 2023

 

So klingt das Licht – Emmanuel Pahud zu Gast beim Tonhalle-Orchester.

Der gefeierte Genfer Flötist und Zürichs Musikdirektor Paavo Järvi bringen in Erkki-Sven Tüürs neuem Solokonzert «Lux Stellarum» das Universum zum Leuchten. Bei Mendelssohns «Lobgesang»-Sinfonie erstrahlt die Tonhalle dann im Licht der Aufklärung.

Das Universum ist ein musikfeindlicher Raum. Ohne Luft keine Schallwellen, also herrscht dort eigentlich grenzenlose Stille. Doch mit seinem Stück «Lux Stellarum», einem Konzert für Flöte und Orchester, macht der estnische Komponist Erkki-Sven Tüür den Weltraum hörbar: nicht als geräuschlose Einöde, sondern als lichterfüllten Klangkosmos. Bei der Schweizer Erstaufführung hat Tüür im Tonhalle-Chefdirigenten Paavo Järvi, seinem Landsmann und musikalischen Wegbegleiter, und in dem Genfer Flötisten Emmanuel Pahud ideale Interpreten für diese Musik des Sternenlichts gefunden.

Immer wieder tritt die Flöte darin in Kontrast zu weiträumigen Klangflächen und Naturgeräuschen des Orchesters, die von einer Riege aus Effekt- und Schlaginstrumenten wie Regenmacher, Vibrafon oder Glockenspiel erzeugt werden. Mal erhebt sich die Solostimme über diesem Klangteppich als gleissend-helle Lichtquelle, mal verglüht sie wie ein Komet in einem bloss noch angedeuteten Wispern. Die assoziativen Klang-Gesten erfordern von Pahud Spielweisen, die weit über die klassische Tonerzeugung hinausgehen.

Wie es Pahud mit seiner überragenden Technik scheinbar mühelos gelingt, beispielsweise die schwierigen «Multiphonics», also obertonreiche Mehrklänge, zu erzeugen und sie mit flirrenden Tonfolgen und virtuosen Glissando-Effekten zu vermischen, ist atemberaubend. Und die Vielzahl der eingesetzten Stilmittel wirkt nie als Selbstzweck, sondern verleiht dem Thema des Stücks erst seine Anschaulichkeit. Im Austausch mit dem oft clusterhaften Orchesterklang entsteht tatsächlich der Eindruck eines tönend entgrenzten Universums.

Der Himmel bleibt bei Tüür dennoch klar gegliedert. Es gibt vier Sätze, versehen mit beredten Satztiteln. So münden die eröffnenden «Dancing Asteroids» nahtlos in eine «Litany of the Dying Stars», eine schmerzlich verschattete Vision vom Sterben der Sterne am Ende der Zeit. Der musikalische Ritt durch die Milchstrasse verstummt schliesslich mit einem Ton der Flöte, der ins Geräusch abgleitet: ein Ende, das ins Offene weiterklingt und im Ohr bleibt.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung / Julia Ramseier 20. 01. 2023

 

 

Philharmonie, Berlin. Emmanuel Pahud, flute. Berliner Philharmoniker. cond. Paavo Järvi

May 26th 2022

A world premiere makes any concert a special occasion and this commission by the Berliner Philharmoniker to the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür proved the point. His Concerto for Flute and Orchestra dedicated to, and performed by, their principal flautist Emmanuel Pahud, proved to be the highlight of this evening. (---) Titled Lux Stellarum, his demanding Flute Concerto clearly reflects the composer's predilections for what he believes to be cosmic sound images. The solo flute translates the swooshes of falling stars, the explosions of faraway galaxies into sometimes dissonant cadences, sometimes blown whispers, sometimes melodious lines. The flute is supported by a full orchestra and an especially sophisticated percussion section. (---) In the first of four movements, titled Fading Stardust, the flute ripples harmoniously, dissolving into soft xylophone, bells and chimes that depict a process of dissolution with falling tone rows. In contrast, Dancing Asteroids, the fittingly named second movement, is full of trills and scales bubbling in intergalactic nebulae. In the third movement, Litany of the Dying Stars, the flute leads us into a mysterious and mournful, far-reaching, ethereal sound space where everything floats, free and lost, seemingly limitless. In the finale – entitled Flooding Galaxies – the focus is turned to the macrocosmos with the various groups of instruments moving toward a climax full of rhythmic energy. Unquestioningly, Pahud’s virtuosity stems from his musical versatility and intrinsic understanding of this work dedicated to him. 

bachtrack.com (five stars)  Zenaida des Aubris


https://bachtrack.com/review-jarvi-pahud-tuur-sibelius-beethoven-berlin-philharmonic-may-2022


Violin Concerto No. 3 "Kõnelused Tundmatuga"

2019/2020

35'

solo violin, 3333, 4331, 1+3, harp, p-no, strings

This premiere was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic:

Fp: Vadim Gluzman (violin), hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony)

cond. Andris Poga

May 15th 2020 Alte Oper, Frankfurt

 

Fp. Jan.27th 2023. Vadim Gluzman, Oregon Symphony, cond. David Danzmayr.

Smith Auditorium, Willamette University. Salem. Oregon. USA

Commissioned by: Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg SO, Oregon Symphony

Publisher: Edition Peters

Program note

This title "Kõnelused Tundmatuga" / "Conversations with the Unknown" refers to different possible conversations with an ‘other self:’ an inner voice (conscience), divinity (in the most abstract meaning), or with someone you do not know but wish to have as a close friend. The conversation is always a dialogue with a certain projection of imagination which is always changing and evolving. The violin soloist is like an individual in the middle of a jungle of ideas, values and so on, trying to bring light and better understanding to one’s journey through the life, seeking answers for the most existential questions.

My orchestral music always uses polyphonic textures consisting of several layers and individual lines, the density of which gradually grows or falls away. This general approach is present also in this concerto. The three movements of the concerto are performed attacca (slow – fast – slow). However, there is always a feeling of different tempi sounding simultaneously in different layers. The first movement ends with a short cadenza which leads into a groovy middle movement. After the huge orchestral culmination, we enter into a different sound world: this is the door to the third movement, more mysterious and atmospheric, sometimes sombre and opaque. The solo violin plays against constantly-shifting acoustic conditions. It is surrounded by ‘overpainted’ musical spaces. At the very end we come to a different light - perhaps this is the moment of full understanding of the qualities that the “Unknown” always tried to gently lead us to.

Reviews

Alte Oper, Frankfurt. Germany

Vadim Gluzman, violin. hr-Sinfonieorchester. cond. Nichols Collon. April 25 & 26. 2024

 

Flächen und Gipfel.

(---) Die europäische Erstauffürung des Violinkonzerts durch das hr-Sinfonieorchester und seinen britischen Gastdirigenten Nicholas Collon liess mehr als eine halbe Stunde lang viel Raum für offen kreisende Gedanken. Während das Orchester Tüürs bewegliche Klangflächen zu energetischen Feldern erhob, war Geiger Vadim Gluzman souveräner Mittelpunkt, Impuls und Echo, ausgleichend und treibend, immer mit gestochen klarem Ton und starker Technik. (---)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Axel Zibulski. 27. 04. 2024

 

(---) 40 Minuten währte danach das 3. Violinkonzert des estnischen Komponisten Erkki-Sven Tüür. Und auch hier verriet der Titel des Auftragswerks des Hessischen Rundfunks etwas Klangjenseitiges: „Gespräche mit dem Unbekannten“. Nur, dass hier ein Komponistenkommentar nötig war, um die klangliche Parallelität zwischen der sehr großen orchestralen Fläche und der vor und über ihr musizierenden Solo-Violine zu bemerken (im Programmheft spricht der 65-jährige Komponist von „einem Dschungel von Ideen und Werten usw.“). Es gab da keine geprägte, symbolische und zeichenhafte Gestalt, die Bedeutung gehabt hätte. Aber das lichter und ziselierter Werden gegen Ende war vielleicht das Unbekannte. Jedenfalls konnte man sich an der stoischen Brillanz des 51-jährigen Virtuosen Vadim Gluzman erfreuen. (---)

Frankfurter Rundschau. Bernhard Uske. 26. 04. 2024

 

(---) Im Anschluss daran gab es von Erkki-Sven Tüürs sein neues drittes Violinkonzert »Gespräche mit dem Unbekannten«. Tüür, ein herausragender estnischer Komponist, hatte dieses Violinkonzert im Auftrag des hr-Sinfonieorchesters komponiert, und die europäische Erstaufführung versprach eine interessante Begegnung zu werden. Solist Vadim Gluzman, international gefeierter Geiger mit einer reichen musikalischen Geschichte, stammt aus der ehemaligen Sowjetunion. Er studierte bei Zakhar Bron und später bei Dorothy DeLay an der renommierten Juilliard School. Seine künstlerische Sensibilität und sein Engagement für zeitgenössische Musik machen ihn zu einem der vielseitigsten Geiger seiner Generation. Gluzmans einzigartige Interpretation und technische Meisterschaft entführten das Publikum auf eine klangliche Reise durch die expressiven Harmonien dieses zeitgenössischen Werkes. Seine künstlerische Sensibilität verlieh dem Stück eine ganz eigene Gestalt. Vadim Gluzman, virtuos wie immer, geleitete das Publikum durch das Werk, in welchem die Dialoge mit dem Unbekannten auf musikalischer Ebene ausgetragen wurden. Das „Gespräch“ ist immer ein Austausch der Innenwelt des eigenen Ichs. Die Stimme der Geige agiert dabei als klangliches Individuum innerhalb der eigenen Lebensreise. Collons einfühlsame Leitung des hr-Sinfonieorchesters trug dazu bei, die Komplexität und Tiefe dieses Werkes engagiert zu gestalten. Von ihm wurde Gluzman aufmerksam begleitet. Das hr-Sinfonieorchester ließ dieses eigensinnige Werk in vielerlei Farben schillern. Das Publikum zeigte sich angetan und spendete langen Applaus für die Ausführenden sowie den anwesenden Komponisten. (---)

onlinemerker.com  Dirk Schauß. 27. 04. 2024

 

(---) Le contraste n’en est que plus saisissant avec le langage plus pointilliste de l’Estonien Erkki‑Sven Tüür (né en 1959), pour la création allemande de son Troisième Concerto pour violon « Entretiens avec l’inconnu ». Il s’agit là d’une nouvelle commande de l’Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Hesse auprès de ce compositeur, après son Premier Concerto pour violon en 1999 (créé à Paris en 2004), son Concerto pour piano en 2006 et sa Septième Symphonie en 2009. Tüür fait l’étalage de toute sa maîtrise de la forme dans un ouvrage assez étendu (37 minutes jouées d’un seul tenant), en un langage expressif et coloré qui fuit la consonance. C’est peu dire que le violon engagé de Vadim Gluzman, qui a créé l’œuvre à Salem (Oregon) le 27 janvier dernier, relève le défi de la virtuosité, sachant aussi unifier les différents aspects séquentiels par son attention aux transitions. Il est bien aidé par les sonorités splendides des autres musiciens, admirablement étagées par Nicholas Collon, ce qui confirme que cette formation est bien l’une des meilleures d’Allemagne, à l’instar de ses équivalents à Berlin ou Munich. (---)

ConcertoNet.com   Florent Coudeyrat.  

 

 

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. Oregon. USA

Vadim Gluzman, violin. Oregon Symphony. cond. David Danzmayr. Jan. 28th 2023

 

A new Violin Concerto As Cosmic Dialogue, Search for Perspective.

 

(---) The somewhat esoteric message of Kõnelused Tundmatuga emphasized an exchange between the soloist (representing the individual) and the orchestra (symbolizing a tumbler of ideas, emotions, cultural bric-a-brac, etc.) over the course of three movements (slow-fast-slow). Sections of the orchestra often created sonic collages that featured a light electronic buzz or slightly distorted whirls even though no electronic instruments were used. They were perhaps influenced by Tüür’s youth, when he played in a rock band before pursuing a career as a composer.

In reaction to a wash of sound that often began with colorful tones from the marimba, vibraphone, piano, harp, and glockenspiel, Gluzman carefully etched lines that seemed to search and probe. His playing was primarily confined to the upper register of his Stradivarius. Sometimes the orchestra echoed a passage that Gluzman played or vice versa. In one of his cadenzas, Gluzman created an eerie series of semitones that were genuinely spooky.

The piece generated an atmosphere of expansion and contraction that went back and forth many times. Gluzman brought it all to a close with silken, ethereal phrases that whispered heavenward as if to suggest that the individual had finally met the divine. (---)

 

www.classicalvoiceamerica.org  James Bash  30.01.2023

https://classicalvoiceamerica.org/2023/01/30/a-new-violin-concerto-as-cosmic-dialogue-between-self-other/ 

 



Violin Concerto No. 2 "Angel's Share"

dedicated to UBC

2017/2018

24'

solo violin, 1 perc. (vibraphone, gran cassa, tamtam, crotales, temple blocks) strings (min. 44332 players)

Fp: Hugo Ticciati (violin), Tallinn Chamber Orchestra

cond. Risto Joost

May 3rd 2018 House of Blackheads, White Hall. Tallinn

Commissioned by: generous anonymous sponsor

Publisher: Edition Peters

YOUTUBE:

live in London: Hugo Ticcianti & O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GD0iEMQhGQ&t=222s

live in Pärnu: Triin Ruubel, Järvi Academy Orchestra, cond. Xandi van Dijk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv52K6iELhY&t=3s

Reviews

King's Place, London. Hugo Ticciati, violin. O/Modernt  Sept. 21. 2018

 

(---)

The musical event of the evening was first UK performance of the 2nd Violin Concerto Angel’s Share Erkki-Sven Tüür. Angel Share is the evaporated liquid that is released from whiskey while it is being distilled that removes the bitterness from the final product. The composer believes that this maturing process can happen to our personalities and the spirit of hope for goodness permeates this work.

This most talented of contemporary Estonian composers, finds a way to be both original and accessible in his most recent works, and Angel Share is no exception. Its slow opening, with strong melodic material and soaring lines for Ticciati, an accomplished soloist here, led to more animated music, full of quirky rhythms and string effects, punctuated by the addition of a percussionist. A brief lull brings about a final section with a lighter touch, dancing rhythms and a final flourish from the percussionist, apparently imitating the sound of cork coming out of a bottle of whiskey.

A new work then of much merit and appeal, given here a most committed and technically accomplished performance. I hope that other violinists might take it on.  (---)

https://bachtrack.com/review-ticciati-o-modernt-tuur-adams-glass-kings-place-september-2018

Chris Garlick  Sept. 22. 2018


Solastalgia for piccolo flute and orchestra

2016

18'

solo piccolo 3333, 4331, 1+3, Pianoforte, str

Fp: Vincent Cortvrint (piccolo), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

cond. Stéphane Denève

December 6th 2017 Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Commissioned by: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, St.Louis Symphony Orchestra

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Horizon 9   RCO 18009   Vincent Cortvrint, piccolo  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra    cond. Stéphane Denève 

Program note

Solastalgia ( /sɒləˈstældʒə/) is a neologism that describes a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change, such as mining or climate change. Coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003, it was formed from a combination of the Latin word sōlācium (comfort) and the Greek root -algia (pain). The first article published on this concept appeared in 2005.

 

As opposed to nostalgia – the – the melancholia or distress experienced by individuals when separated from a loved home (or homesickness)—“solastalgia” is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.

I mostly live in Hiiumaa (an island in the Baltic Sea), in a farm on Kõpu peninsula. When the wind happens to blow from the north, I can hear the waves break on the other side of the forest. There are no other houses in sight. From the windows of my studio, I can often spot deer, foxes and cranes. It takes about ten minutes to walk through the protected forest down to the beach. And I feel how every day my life in this miraculous place grows increasingly rare and somehow unreal. Like some sort of an illusion.

Where I live, the impact of global climate change manifests itself in that winters are no longer winters and summers no longer summers. In my childhood it was ordinary for cars to drive to mainland on a 25 km ice bridge in the winter. There was a lot of snow. And summers were so warm that swimming in the sea was the most natural thing in the world. Today’s reality is that the difference between winter and summer equinoxes is often only 4-5 degrees. There is no place to hide from the ubiquitous environmental change caused by human activity.

An inexplicable anguish creeps into my soul when I see the vast areas of chopped down forests; the onslaught of oil palm plantations when I travel in Southeast Asia; when I read about gigantic ice blocks breaking off the mainland in Antarctica; the fields of garbage floating around in the ocean, etc. Why am I writing about this here? Do I have any solutions to offer? No, I don’t. And this composition won’t make the world a better place either. At best, it’s a lone voice in the wilderness – something that echoes the most burning conflicts of contemporary reality. The above was just to explain that I didn’t choose the title on a whim or due to the word’s peculiar sound.

The piccolo in this score is the catalyst of great processes in the orchestra. Its effect and essence are perhaps the most similar to the “butterfly” pattern adopted by the American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz. Initially, the piccolo phrases are replied to by a “same-gender” sound: the flute, alto flute and bass flute. The introduction of more melodious motifs is accompanied by the entire woodwind section and, gradually, by the whole orchestra. It is remarkable how the orchestral waves inspired by the piccolo grow more intense and then slowly emancipate. Everything flows in the direction of increasing rhythmical activity and expanding tessitura, spirally developing in waves that accumulate more and more energy.

 

The harmonic plan evolves according to the consistent alteration of the horizontal or vertical organisation principle. Resembling repeatedly converging and diverging rays, the structure of musical lines on the horizontal level is connected to the structure of huge chord pillars on the vertical level. A sequence of certain key intervals spurs infinite derivatives, which, though growing and diminishing, are nevertheless tied to the original DNA. I have called my composition method “vectorial”, as I develop my musical material according to factors such as “the angle of ascent or descent”, “curve characteristics”, the direction of energy accumulation and eruption, etc. I want to emphasise that although this sounds extremely artificial, the decisions I make when composing are still largely based on intuition. Moreover, in my imagination the inner energy and dramatic development becomes an abstract visual chart that very naturally guides me to use these vectorial methods in shaping the musical details. And when I listen to my music, the most important thing is whether its developmental arc sounds natural or not. Like a tree that grows from a small seed – when it’s just a tiny sprout shooting from the earth, we haven’t the slightest idea of what form it would take in decades. Having achieved its final shape, however, it’s the sole fundamentally intrinsic outcome it could have reached.

Erkki-Sven Tüür (translation Pirjo Püvi)

Reviews

Royal Festival Hall, London. Stewart McIlwham, piccolo. London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Marin Alsop. Jan. 16th 2019

(---)The biggest impression was left by the two works performed in the UK for the first time. Erkki-Sven Tüür’s 2017 Solastalgia used a solo piccolo (the LPO’s own Stewart McIlwham) to spark off confrontational ideas in the orchestra in what becomes an increasingly angry protest against climate change. And Louis Andriessen’s latest score, Agamemnon, first performed by the New York Philharmonic last October, is a rare orchestral work from a composer who has avoided such things for most of his career. (---)

The Guardian Jan. 17th 2019 Andrew Clements

 

(---) A crystalline soundworld is also discernible in parts of Solastalgia by the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür (born 1959). A lament for the effects of environmental change, as witnessed by the composer on the island of Hiiumaa in the Baltic Sea where he lives, the work was commissioned by another consortium of orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw who premiered it in Amsterdam in December 2017. This single-movement piece captured attention from the opening – an expansion of the piccolo into a world of multiple flutes – and never let go. The piccolo consistently initiates processes in the orchestra, rather than the conventional concerto relationships of accord or antagonism. A gradual thickening of textures peaks with a Zappa-like passage of big-band brass and drum kit, after which ethereally tumbling percussion leads us back to the multiple flutes of the beginning, and finally into inarticulacy: an outstanding work. Stewart McIlwham (principal piccolo, LPO) was the calmly authoritative soloist. Alsop had been giving short introductions (a model of their kind – witty and to the point) to each work together with their respective composers (only Andriessen was not present) but Tüür had evidently not received the memo and had to dash down to the stage from the audience.(---)

www.classicalsource.com  Steve Lomas

 

(---) Solastalgia by Erkki-Sven Tüür from Estonia is music rooted in his home on an island in the Baltic Sea. A dazzling solo piccolo, here Stewart McIlwham, embodied the brilliant light and nature’s restless energy. (---)

Financial Times  Richard Fairman

 

(---) Erkki-Sven Tüür built his Solastalgia around a musical version of the butterfly effect, with the solo piccolo sending waves through the orchestra. The brass section often sounded like the biggest of big bands, but after a roaring climax, the piece reached a natural stasis. (---)

Evening Standard   Nick Kimberley

 

 

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Vincent Cortvrint, piccolo. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Stéphane Denève 

Dec. 6th 2017

Tüür gives voice to climate change

(….)

Solastalgia, a contraction of solacium (comfort) and algia (pain), means something like not feeling well in your own environment, which has strongly changed. Tüür takes this literally. At home in his farm on Hiiumaa, in the Baltic Sea, he personally witnesses the climate change and that doesn’t please him at all. Therefore one is tempted to listen to Solastalgia as an ecological warning, which makes you worry how this world will come to an end. 

Tüür has written an imaginative and accessible work, full of tonal references, which will be gladly welcomed by all piccolo-players in the world, and won’t frighten the average listener. 

 

Cortvrint leads the conversation from the beginning, at first with a percussionist, who accentuates each highest note of the piccolo with cymbals antiques. Remarkable too are the passages full of trills in the woodwinds, which strongly suggest the later works of Boulez, and which introduce a process of Stimmungssteigerung, culminating in seething and stringent orchestral agitation. Cortvrint excellently performed his part as cataclyst and his colleagues showed their best playing. 

het Parool  7-12-2017   Erik Voermans

 

(…)

One can only hope that more piccolo players will embrace this work, because it deserves it. Tüür has a fine ear for combining notes in a well-sounding but nevertheless unusual way. In Solastalgia he not only explores the agility, but also the darker sides of Cortvrints miniature flute, and he melts the high tones with the orchestral sound, often so cunningly that new timbres spring into existence. At times the mixtures evoke the sound of the sheng, the overtone rich Chinese mouth organ.

Which doesn’t mean that the music sounds oriental. The harmony is dominated by rustling clusters and the lines are swift and capricious. The soloist combines shrill high notes with imaginative somersaulting  melodies and dancing figures. One by one the orchestral sections enter, until the soloist merges into a scorching sea of sound. 

 

Pulsating brass, whirling sounds of the piccolo and chanting strings bring a new eruption, which dwindles away in a long and static passage with softly plopping valves. That even the most vehement commotion remains distinctly clear, is of course also due to the excellent teamwork of the orchestra

deVolkskrant 8-12-2017   Frits van der Waa

 

A heartfelt cry for the climate on piccolo

(…)

Tüür knows the feeling, because on his distant Estonian island he day by day witnesses the effects of the changing climate. Solastalgia is a heartfelt cry. But is the piccolo the right vehicle for this?

For a long time this didn’t seem the case. Cortvrint played excellent, that wasn’t the problem, and the concept of the work proved intriguing. More than a solo instrument the piccolo played the role of forerunner or catalyst, lighting little fires in the orchestra like a tinder-box. This lead to beautiful iridizing tapestries of sound, in which every now and then a collective bell was sounded.  

Cortvrint proved with gusto that the piccolo is capable of more than warbling high and loud, but the solo part remained rather conventional in its musical contents. The work got stuck in seemingly dramatic  orchestral whirls without much direction or purpose. This was the downside of Tüürs anti-soloist treatment, because the piccolo could do little once the fire was blazing. 

 

Until, after an exuberant climax, all fell silent and the piccolo returned to the feeling of the opening. A serene cadenza proved to be the start to a marvelous coda, slowly swelling, with tingling interplay between the soloist and tuned percussion, which placed everything that went before in a different light. Now the orchestra sounded like a gigantic melting ice palace, and suddenly, amongst this  sublime force of nature, the little brave piccolo became very touching.

NRC NEXT 8-12-2017  Joep Stapel

 

The power of a small flute

(…)

Tüür made it into a concerto, in which the piccolo mostly sounds like an orchestral instrument, but at important moments convincingly comes to the foreground as soloist: a very successful concept, in which the powers of this small but excelling flute could be displayed – and whichever way you look at it, its sound can be heard. 

 

In Cortvrints hands the piccolo has a pure  and honest sound. This musician commands a wide range of colors, which he loosely shared with his colleagues from the Concertgebouw Orchestra. At some moments they travelled together, at others Cortvrints notes diverted from the orchestral sound, all in a fluent motion. Tüürs works demands muscular music making, but also to whistle nostalgia into the hall, each possible nuance was delivered with intense sound.

Trouw 9-12-2017  Frederike Berntsen

 

Sehnsüchtiges Heimweh: Erkki-Sven Tüürs Piccoloconcert in Amsterdam

Der in Estland geborene Tüür ist ein gesellschaftspolitisch engagierter Komponist. Er möchte nach eigenen Aussagen die kreative Energie seiner Zuhörer erreichen. Der Titel Solastalgia bedeutet sehnsüchtiges Heimweh nach dem früheren, durch den Klimawandel zerstörten Zustand eines Ortes. Der unvorbereitete Zuhörer kann von all dem wenig entdecken oder hören. Ohne intellektuellen Leitfaden ist diese neue Komposition ein anstrengendes Hörereignis. Tüür schreibt sehr symphatisch auf seiner Webseite dazu: „Do I have any solutions to offer? No, I don’t. And this composition won’t make the world a better place either. At best, it’s a lone voice in the wilderness...“

Das Stück beginnt mit einem Geigenbogen gestrichenen Vibraphonton. Dann kann man geblasene Luft von den Blechbläsern hören, der Solist spielt eine kurze hohe Melodie, die danach von Bass- und Altflöte kommentiert wird. Wunderschöne Flageolettreihen von den Flöten, angenehme Klarinettentöne, viele Triller und bedrohlich klingende Blechbläserakkorde folgen. Der Solist bewegt sich oft in den höchsten Registern nahe der Schmerzgrenze, wo er vom Glockenspiel unterstützt wird; im unteren Register klang das Piccolo oftmals etwas heiser. Auf der Bühne stand ein Schlagzeug, welches gegen Ende des Stückes wie auch bei anderen Stücken von Tüür einige rockartige Soli spielte und dabei vom vollbesetzten Orchester begleitet wurde. Zum Ende hin wird das Stück leiser, die Flötengruppe spielt wieder ihre wunderschönen Flageolettglissandi und eine Melodie, die an eine Indianerflöte erinnert. Es endete nach tonlosen Klopfgeräuschen der Querflöten in sekundenwährender Bewegungslosigkeit.

Tüür schrieb kein traditionelles Solokonzert, sondern eine musica concertante. Er vergleicht die Rolle des Soloinstruments mit dem des berühmten Schmetterlings von Lorenz, dessen Flügelschlag einen Tornado auslösen kann. Seine Kompositionsmethode ist strengen mathematischen Regeln unterworfen – „I develop my musical material according to factors such as the angle of ascent or descent, curve characteristics“. Tüur beschreibt sich aber gleichzeitig als einen intuitiven Künstler, dem es darum geht, sein ursprüngliches musikalisches Material natürlich entwickeln zu lassen. (...)

Bachtrack.com  7-12-2017  Michael Klier

 

(---) What instantly appeals to me within the context of this piece is the fact it is almost an anti-Romantic concerto; namely it isn't a heroic victory, it isn't even necessarily salvation, but a lone figure disappearing out of significance. Its also intriguingly anti-Romantic in the way many Romantic/Nationalistic figures tended to celebrate nature or the wilderness; whereas this is fear for the environment itself.

The work starts from a rather beautiful shimmering place. Our soloist singing unashamedly enjoying itself within its wonderful home. However, as time progresses elements and ideas get more and more evocative and challenging; changing and mutating. The once content creature now struggles to survive, getting more animated and fractious at the loss of its familiar home. The energy and sheer strength of the orchestra becomes increasingly powerful, but the soloist keeps singing. The sheer expanse of the orchestration is exquisite and intensive. The driving rhythmic force really pushes the orchestral backdrop to a point of complete dominance where the soloist has only brief glimpses of respite. These moments of 'calm' never feel peaceful or like a resolution but more a point of complete desolation. The finale is eerie. The fog is clearing and almost nothing remains. Is this a prophecy or epiphany? Has the desolation of this 'home' happened or is it going to happen? Its hard to say the exact intent at this point, but all we know either way, the composer is desperate to voice his fear for the future and for the rural world in general.

The premiere was astounding. I was blown away by what I was hearing. Erkki-Sven Tuur is definitely a new period of his compositional life, and a part that I am truly excited to see where it heads. The 
Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra were on particularly brilliant form and really bought the work to life. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to write for Vincent Cortvrint (piccolo), his mastery of the instrument and sheer tenacity in the premiere was glorious. What a wonderful performance, what a glorious piece; I can only congratulate everybody involved. (---)

http://balticgems.blogspot.com/   Ben Lunn

 

Vincent Cortvrint (piccolo)  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra   cond. Olari Elts  4 October 2019

Solastalgia is one of several works responding to climate-change drama (one couldn't help feeling that the hyper-tempestuous and exhausting Sow the wind... was akin to the storms-beyond-measure we've been experiencing in recent years). Living and composing on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa, Tüür both values this special retreat and worries about the seasonal changes apparent even there, not least a mild winter when the sea can’t be guaranteed to freeze over.

A personal response to Solastalgia, however, suggested the virtuoso piccolo role, played by the Royal Concertgebouw's phenomenal principal Vincent Cortvrint (who gave the 2017 world premiere in Amsterdam), might be Ariel riding or invoking another tempest. A concerto, then, in one sense, but the soloist's close involvement with the orchestra and especially lower flutes, down to the bass member of the family, kept his role concertante style and the essence of the piece, a more conspicuous arch with a bewitching conclusion, symphonic.

David Nice   theartsdesk.com    19 December 2019

 




Clarinet Concerto "Peregrinus Ecstaticus"

2012

24'

solo clarinet, 2232, 4230, 1 + 2, strings (12.12.8.6.4)

Fp: Christoffer Sundqvist (clarinet), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

cond. Hannu Lintu

Sept. 4th 2013 Helsinki Music Centre

Commissioned by: YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company)

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Peregrinus Ecstaticus Ondine ODE 1287-2 (2017)

      Christoffer Sundqvist, clarinet. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

      Hannu Lintu, conductor

YOUTUBE:

in 2 parts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tzpm_0u8JY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UX2w73LuBE

Program note

 

The title of the clarinet concerto Peregrinus Ecstaticus (‘Ecstatic Pilgrim’ in Latin) offers us a hint for the interpretation of the soloist’s character.

Imagine a pilgrim’s quest, full of obstacles and hazards, towards his desired goal; his perseverance and vigour alternating with exhaustion and fatigue; conquering actual physical obstacles combined with spiritual struggles...

The composition commences with an actively progressing theme in the lower register of the clarinet, supported by percussion instruments and the pizzicato of strings. Orchestral wind instruments are introduced as the clarinet moves into higher registers. It is as if the soloist sets the orchestra in motion, gradually invigorating it. The relationship between the soloist and the orchestra becomes increasingly interactive and as the piece progresses, it becomes unclear who is influencing whom. The clarinet concerto consists of three movements that are performed attacca. The first movement also comprises three sections, as it reflects the structure of the entire piece. In the middle, cadenza-like section, time seems to stop and through this the soloist finds a new perspective and strength to continue the journey. The third and much more intense section ends with a big chord. Then, a wonderful world of microcosmos is opened up by “zooming into” the chord. This comprises the second movement that conveys introspection and illuminative colour solutions. Towards the end of the second movement, short passages with material from the third movement start cropping up and thus gradually form the transition to the third movement.

The relationship between the clarinet and the orchestra is in constant fluctuation, as impatient struggles and rapid ascents and descents are followed by focusing on moments that may transform into extensive enlightening visions in a different temporal dimension; these are, in turn, followed by ecstatic bursts of joy, etc.

However, this composition is not an attempt to describe such a journey. On the most abstract level, this is the very journey. I came up with this story and the title of the piece after I had already finished the score. Thus, this is not programme music. As I have also said earlier, I would be delighted if this piece inspired listeners to create their own “stories”, in the hope that the music touches the creative core of the audience.

Erkki-Sven Tüür

Translation: Pirjo Püvi

 


Viola Concerto "Illuminatio" Play

2008

23'

solo viola, 2222, 4221, 1+3, Arpa, Strings

Fp: Lars Anders Tomter (viola), South Jutland Symphony Orchestra (Sonderjyllands Symfoniorkester)

cond. Vladimir Ziva

October 23, 2008, Alsion Concert Hall, Sonderborg, Denmark

Commissioned by: Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, South Jutland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Norsk Musikrad

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Ondine ODE 1303-2  Lawrence Power, viola  Tapiola Sinfonietta  cond. Olari Elts  (2018)

YOUTUBE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SarUkAmi6Fo

 

Program note

 

„Illuminatio“ for viola and orchestra could be seen as a pilgrimage towards eternal light. Then the music starts to grow like a plant from the seed. The basic particles for the viola part cell are major 2nd which flows into unison through glissando and the subsequent overtone tremolo.

The musical development follows a very organic and logic waveform, each wave bigger and stronger than previous. The more we reach closer to the end, the more orchestral part gets agitated and even „runs over“ the soloist at the last culmination. The relationship between the soloist and the orchestra is always changing. They feed each other with continuously renewing material and build up shifting soundscapes and rhythmic layers of different intensity.

I appreciate Lars Anders Tomter and Martin Müller’s suggestion to write a work for viola and orchestra.

Erkki-Sven Tüür

 


Prophecy for accordion and orchestra Play

2007

24'

accordion, 2222, 2220, 2perc. strings

Fp: Mika Väyrynen (accordion), Turku Philharmonic Orchestra

cond. Olari Elts

October 11, 2007, Turku Concert Hall, Finland

Commissioned by: Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre de Bretagne

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Symphony No 5 / Prophecy   Ondine ODE 1234-2

Program note

 

There are four movements in my accordion concerto „Prophecy“, all performed attacca. The opening movement followes waveform logic and acts like status nascendi. Alternating processes like congelation and melting, converging and dispersing are the main forces of forming the musical material. The color of accordion fades into string chord, the string chord fades into brass and so on. Everything is in constant flow. Ascending and descending whirls meet each other and leave a glittering surface behind.

The second movement gives us the perception of the pulse. Here takes place the dialogue between soloist and orchestra and the development culminates with cadenza which debouches into slow third movement. The accordion part is figurative and it descends slowly towards the lowest register only to climb up again forming then a choral-like melodic line. The forth part is a kind of continuously tension-building surreal dance. 

The title „Prophecy“ refers to the extremely long and rich practice of „seeing things“ through the history of different cultures and traditions. Let us remember that often these people were met with mixed feelings by the majority of the society. They were respected, disdained, hazardous and kind of mad. However, they had access to the beyond. Also the music reflects – from my subjective point of view - the energetic levels of this phenomenon.

Erkki-Sven Tüür

 


Whistles and Whispers from Uluru Play

dedicated to Anangu People

2007

13'

solo recorder (sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and string orchestra

Fp: Genevieve Lacey (recorders) Australian Chamber Orchestra, leader Richard Tognetti

November 3. 2007  Canberra Theatre, Australia

Commissioned by: Dr. Peter R Dawson and Australian Chamber Orchestra

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Ondine ODE 1303-2    Genevieve Lacey, recorders   Tapiola Sinfonietta  cond. Olari Elts

Program note

 

While I was composing the work for ACO and Genevieve at my countryhouse on the island of Hiiumaa on the Baltic Sea, it was a springtime full of birdsong. The trees and bushes were covered by the veil of bright fresh green color. And yet I was followed by the vision of the mysterious Uluru rock in the middle of the desert but in my inner imagination the true vision was mixed up with the surroundings of our nordic landscape. These continuously changing visions were always present, not in a firmly fixed mood but with permanently varied lightings and surroundings. That’s why I decided to give this piece a rather peculiar title „Whistles and Whispers from Uluru“.

The music begins in the highest register, soloist performing rapid birdsong-like motifs on the sopranino recorder. The orchestral part consists mostly of crystalline sustained „soundclouds“, each instrument performing its own voice. So we have the feeling of both extremely slow and fast music going on simultaneously. Microintervals play quite important role by forming the harmony in the opening section. The further development carries the tendency of widening and gradual embracing of the lower register. Orchestral part gets more intense and the soloist changes to the soprano, then to the alto etc. Moments of micropolyphony step to the playground.

The rhythmic drive reaches to another level in the last section. The soloist and the orchestra form a lively ensemble presenting the common „musical time“ after having been before in different „time zones“ so to say.

I am grateful to Richard Tognetti, the wonderful ACO and a superb recorder player Genevieve Lacey – it has been a great pleasure to compose this piece for you!

Erkki-Sven Tüür

 

Reviews

 

Australian Chamber Orchestra and Genevieve Lacey // Australian Tour 12 concerts // November 2007

(---)As part of its nationwide Rapture tour, the Australian Chamber Orchestra explores, through collaboration with Lacey, the scope of the recorder’s versatility across genres and eras. Traversing the pristine, rapid solo passages of a Telemann concerto, ACO arrives at the more volatile sound worlds of newly commissioned works by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959) and Perth-based James Ledger (b. 1966). The program concludes with a lush string orchestra arrangement (sans recorder) of Verdi’s String Quartet in E minor, perhaps an odd addition but not without musical antecedents to the sweeping romanticism found in Tüür’s offering.

Erkki-Sven Tüür often draws inspiration for his work from landscapes in which he perceives ‘the presence of both movement and stillness.’ Whistles and Whispers from Uluru (2007) combines the rich birdsong of the composer’s native surrounds (the Baltic Sea) with the hum of a starkly different environment: that of the Australian desert.

Tüür is not the first European composer to be taken with this country’s flora and fauna: Messiaen was famously entranced by lyrebird song during his excursion to the Brindabella Ranges in Canberra. Whistles and Whispers opens with similarly ecstatic, birdlike swoops and flourishes from the sopranino recorder, melting microtonally into a dialogue of crisp string pizzicato and shimmering chords described by the composer as ‘soundclouds’. Tüür’s atmospheric use of strings is not far removed from the glassy violin harmonics in the music of countryman Arvo Pärt, but, instead of eerie austerity, he achieves a charged, gestural drama. It is as if each sustained chord represents the composer’s view of the imposing rock formation from a new and humbling angle.

This sense of awe and discovery is echoed by forays into the recorder’s arsenal of extended techniques (eg. multiphonics, twin recorders). The piece moves gradually through the recorder family, reaching its climax on a large tenor played like a shakuhachi to evoke the dry desert wind. Finally, Lacey retreats symmetrically through various instrument sizes and tessituras to return to the original sopranino, as if Tüür had pressed the rewind button on evolution. (---)

Resonate Magazine, 19.12.07, Melissa Lesnie

 

(---)The appearance of any new work by leading Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur should be an international event. Commissioned by a generous ACO patron in Perth, Peter Dawson, Whistles and Whispers from Uluru inhabited two worlds, the natural soundscape alongside more contemporary dimensions. For an unsettling 16 minutes, Tuur's subtle imagination veered between fascination and trepidation. (---)

The Australian

 

 

(---) Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Whistles and Whispers from Uluru, is a musical tribute to Australia. Music of shifting tonalities and rhythmic changes, of whispering bird-like suggestions and sounds standing in space, it effectively uses multiple recorders in solo from the highest in register to the lowest. It was realised in a performance of assumed brilliance from the soloist, with firmly shaped support. (---)

W.L. Hoffmann, Canberra Times (7 November 2007)

 

 

(---) Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Whistles and Whispers from Uluru began suggestively enough with Lacey’s sopranino instrument imitating bird twitterings before moving into more solid territory, the soloist working through the work with a full range of recorders from soprano to bass and back again. Like the Ledger piece, this also invited the listener to watch out for changing textures, the orchestra underpinning their soloist with impressively unpredictable textures that served as a meleonic foil for Lacey’s conscientious delineation of a taxing, rapidly moving dominant thread in this intriguing piece.(---)

Clive O’Connell, The Age (8 November 2007)

 

 


Piano Concerto Play

2006

25'

solo piano, 2232, 4331, 1+2, strings

Fp: Thomas Larcher (piano), hr-Sinfonieorchester, cond. Paavo Järvi

November 22, 2006  Alte Oper, Frankfurt

Commissioned by: hr-Sinfonieorchester

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD: Seventh Symphony / Piano Concerto  ECM 2341

YOUTUBE:  http://youtu.be/1hpQI_88z_A

Program note

 

With this piano concerto I decided to restrict myself and abandon all avant-garde playing techniques – in other words, the music is played only on the keys. At any rate, playing inside the piano is not a novelty anymore. In addition, I wanted to focus particularly on contradicting and connecting the lowest and highest registers.

The first segment of music develops in increasing waves and initially the orchestra acts as a resonator; afterwards it grows more independent and also more intense. Gradually, the piano part also becomes more vigorous, focusing on technically demanding repetitive rhythmic patterns. All the musical events accumulate into the first culmination that dissolves into a light and transparent intermediate section. The harmonic idea behind this is to follow the vectorial logic of contrapuntal motion. Another intensification occurs and leads, through a more gradatory culmination, to a jazz-like part. This, in turn, surreally develops into the final culmination. The residual incandescence gives a glimpse of that “something”, which inspired this whole journey in the first place.

Erkki-Sven Tüür
(translation Pirjo Püvi)

 

Reviews

Alte Oper, Frankfurt. Thomas Larcher, piano. hr-Sinfonieorchester. Paavo Järvi. Nov. 22  2006

Am besten ist, man erwartet erst einmal nichts von dem, was man bisher landläufig unter einem Klavierkonzert verstanden hat, wenn der Komponist Erkki Sven Tüür heißt. Tüür, der mittlerweile international stark gefragte estnische Komponist, zieht sich nach eigenem Bekunden am liebsten zum Arbeiten auf die Ostseeinsel Hiiumaa zurück und ist ein nachdenklicher Eigenbrötler. Das ist in etwa auch die Rolle, die er dem Pianisten in seinem jetzt in der Alten Oper uraufgeführten Klavierkonzert beimisst.

Es ist also kein Solo-Konzert mit Orchesterbegleitung, sondern ein dramatisches Geschehen, in dem der Pianist im hohen Register einen herausfordernden Anfang setzt, der ihm sogleich vom Orchester weggeschnappt, zu Klangmaterial gemacht und verarbeitet, verwandelt wird. Was seinerseits den Pianisten in die Rolle bringt, etwas von dem weiter verarbeiteten Material an sich zu ziehen und als eigenen Gedanken zu reformulieren, den ihm das Orchester wieder entzieht, indem es ihn übertönt und aussaugt und so weiter.

Es ist ein konfliktreicher, austauschintensiver Prozess zwischen Orchester und Solist, den Tüür geformt hat, ein rastloses Vorankommen und Weitergehen, ein Sich-Hinwegsetzen, eine rückhaltlose Gier im gegenseitigen Sich-Aussaugen. Tüür ist ein Eigenbrötler, der weiß, dass er keine Chance hat, unabhängig zu sein oder gar zu bleiben. Die unhierarchisch-summarische Radikalität der Form, die keine Rückkehr in die Reprise duldet, wohl aber den Gestus des Beharrens, hat ihre Entsprechung in einer Rastlosigkeit des Klangbildes, das vielgestaltig und frei von Berührungsängsten wirkt: ein wogendes Gebilde aus rhythmisch strukturierten Streicherflächen, gewichtigen Blechbläsereinwürfen, schattenhaft einander nachlaufenden Holzbläserphrasen, einer klangbetont eingesetzten, dreifach besetzten Percussions-Fraktion, die manchmal das Orchester zusammen mit dem Klavier in die Zange zu nehmen scheint. Es ist eine energische Bewegung in dieser Musik, ein ständiges Aufnehmen, Weiterreichen, Unterbrechen, Weiterentwickeln; der Solist sucht sein Heil in extremen Lagen und wird doch immer mehr in die Mitte der Klaviatur gedrängt.
Höchste Präsenz ist gefordert

Es ist kein Virtuosenstück für den Solisten Thomas Larcher, sondern ein Stück voller Fallen, Tücken, Verdichtungen und Schwierigkeiten, deren Bewältigung nicht die Belohnung des spektakulären Auftritts verspricht. Höchste Präsenz ist dabei gefordert, und es geht einfach immer weiter, bis die Hörner mit lautem Luftgeräusch aushauchen: Mehr wird nicht in Aussicht gestellt. Den Orchesterpart hat Tüürs Landsmann Paavo Järvi mit dem HR-Sinfonieorchester als Gebilde von präzise gezeichneten, sich verstrickenden, aber nie ganz verlierenden Linien gestaltet: Im Getümmel hilft nur die größtmögliche Genauigkeit der Konturen. So bekommt dieses erstaunliche Werk, nicht zuletzt dank einer großen Präzisionsleistung des Orchesters, seine plausible Gestalt.

Wenn das nordische Musik ist, dann ist auch Bruckner nordisch. Järvi, der an dem Großsinfoniker starkes Interesse zeigt, lässt ihn in seiner Interpretation der klangmächtige 7. Sinfonie Es-Dur wie einen Vorläufer Tüürs erscheinen: die gleiche motivische Rastlosigkeit, die gleiche Grenzenlosigkeit der Klangsuche, die gleiche wie zerstreut immer voranschreitende Formgebung. Und, in der orchestralen Interpretation, die gleiche Genauigkeit der Konturzeichnung, die gleiche Klarheit und Systematik der Steigerungs-Dramaturgie. Wobei, wenn man den Vergleich einen Schritt weiter denkt, Bruckner in einem Landschaftsgemälde verhaftet bleibt, während Tüür aus seinem Material ein abstraktes Drama formt.

Am besten ist, man erwartet erst einmal nichts von dem, was man bisher für nordische Musik hielt, wenn Paavo Järvi dirigiert.

Frankfurter Rundschau,  Hans-Jürgen Linke

 

Finlandia Hall, Helsinki. Laura Mikkola, piano. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam

Oct. 8th 2009

Virolaissäveltäjä tekee soinnista arkkitehtuuria

Sointiaineksen muovailu kuvanveiston tai rakennusmassoittelun tapaan on virolaisen Erkki-Sven Tüürinmusiikille ominaista, mutta ei jähmeänä, vaan dramaattisesti liikkuvana, massojen energisyydestä ja fyysisestä suoruudesta syntyvänä.

Kolme vuotta sitten sävelletyn pianokonserton uhkaavat jyräykset paaluttivat pohjan, josta ponnistaen Laura Mikkolataisteli tiensä kirkkaisiin helinöihin.

Sävelten välit täyttyivät pystysuoraan orkesterivärein sävytettyinä sointupilareina. Valonsäteen tavoin pilareista peräkkäin kimmahtavat sävelet ryhmittyivät säikeiksi, jotka korvasivat lineaariset melodiat. Jazz-vaihde rävähti päälle kuin radioasemaa vaihdettaessa. Lopun yllättävä katastrofi haihtui kirpeän kuulaana tyhjyyteen.

Ulkoa konserton soittanut Mikkola muotoilee musiikkia aina viimeistellysti ja mehukkaasti olipa kyseessä uusi tai vanha teos. Soinnin kauneus, kantavuus ja ytimekkyys tekivät vaikutuksen.

 

 

Helsinkin Sanomat 10.10.2009 Jukka Isopuro

 

 

Music Hall, Cincinnati. USA. Awadagin Pratt, piano. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,

Paavo Järvi. May 13th and 14th 2011

(---)Premiered in 2006 by pianist Thomas Larcher and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra under Järvi (also music director in Frankfurt), Tüür’s Concerto exhibits the same limitless sonic imagination as “Fireflower.” Pratt was literally all over the keys, from bottom to top of the piano’s range, as he interacted with the orchestra.  Composed without a break, the music unfolds in waves of color, like light bent through a prism, or bolts of multi-colored fabric.

Pratt began with an emphatic low note on the piano, which seemed to bleed into the double basses and timpani, like ink spreading through the water.  As the piano rose into a higher register, the brasses blew through their instruments, giving the texture an unforgettable “open” effect.

As the instrumental voices accumulated, the piano kept weaving among them, often with difficult repeated note figures, and there was considerable rhythmic interaction with the strings.  Colors were vivid, Tüür creating an almost pitch black sonority at one point, utilizing low brasses and piano.  As the work progressed, the piano came increasingly to the fore, and there was a long, almost rhapsodic piano solo, touchingly conveyed by Pratt. 

The wave-like motion grew turbulent, almost violent midway in the 25-minute piece, and one could hear that repeated note motif being passed around the orchestra (timpani, xylophone).  A little jazz riff, beginning in the double basses, led into somewhat calmer waters. There was a brief, lullaby-like interlude by the piano over a sustained bass note before the waves begin to smooth out toward the end.  Again, the brasses blew through their instruments.  It was like a cool breeze after a storm, or a safe harbor at last. 

“Fireflower” and the Piano Concerto are the eighth and ninth works by Tüür to be introduced to Cincinnati audiences by his fellow Estonian Järvi.  It is a rich legacy and one well suited for a virtuoso orchestra like the CSO.  Tüür, who is in town for this weekend’s concerts, is without doubt one of today’s greatest sonic artists, in a direct line from Berlioz, Mahler and such 20th-century masters as Stravinsky and Edgar Varese. Don’t take your eye off him, Cincinnati. (---)

www.musicincincinnati.com  Mary Ellyn Hutton. 14.05.2011

 

 

 


Noesis for violin, clarinet and orchestra Play

2005

solo violin, solo clarinet, 2222, 4331, 1+3, strings

Fp: Isabelle van Keulen (violin), Michael Collins (clarinet),

Detroit Symphony Orchestra, cond. Neeme Järvi

June 17, 2005, Detroit, USA

Commissioned by: Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD 1: "Strata" ECM New Series (2010); Carolin Widmann (violin), Jörg Widmann (clarinet)

Nordic Symphony Orchestra, cond. Anu Tali

CD 2: Peregrinus Ecstaticus  Ondine ODE 1287-2 (2017) 

         Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Christoffer Sundqvist (clarinet)

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Hannu Lintu

Reviews

Isabelle van Keulen, Michael Collins. Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Neeme Järvi.                                                     17. 06.  2005   World Premiere  

Well, it's not an ideal way to go out, but it's not without its pleasures. Besides, you can't argue with fate.
Neeme Jarvi was to have completed his tenure as music director of the Detroit Symphony last week with a blockbuster program of Scriabin, Strauss and Stravinsky that fit his strengths the way the Masters golf tournament suits Tiger Woods. Boy, did Jarvi rock.
This week, Jarvi's conductor son Paavo was scheduled to end the season. But when a hand injury forced him to the sidelines, Papa returned for an encore. But the temperament of the program is rarified: Mozart's "Overture to La clemenza di Tito"; the world premiere of Estonian Erkki-Sven Tuur's Concerto for Clarinet, Violin and Orchestra ("Noesis"), and Schumann's Symphony No. 3.
Most compelling Friday morning was Tuur's mesmerizing concerto with violinist Isabelle van Keulen and clarinetist Michael Collins. Tuur's sound world is a brooding collage of atonal spikes, ghostly wisps, severe crescendos, pulsating rhythms, stuttering repetitions and spirals, calm stasis and disarming melody.
Jarvi's Schumann has always been idiosyncratic, but the surprise was that he personalized the score with expansive tempos and songful phrasing instead of his typical reinvention of German music as a breezy convertible ride. But the music bogged down -- a Jarvi rarity -- and I found myself longing for more pep and sass.
Detroit Free Press  18. 06. 2005   Mark Stryker

(---)Among the swell nibblers and sippers at Thursday's preconcert reception was the 45-year-old Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur, whose Concerto for Violin, Clarinet and Orchestra the DSO premiered Friday morning. In sparkling English, Tuur explained that the husband-wife team of clarinetist Michael Collins and violinist Isabelle van Keulen had proposed the new concerto, which became a joint commission by the DSO and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, where it will be played next season under Paavo Jarvi's direction.
Tuur said he subtitled the work "Noesis," the Greek word for the process of cognition and understanding, to emphasize how interaction between the two spotlighted instruments symbolized an ideal human quest to grasp one another's totality, our individual essences -- the first step to authentic mutual respect and mutual accommodation.
Friday's performance indeed revealed a work of brilliant interplay between violin and clarinet, each probing in to the range of the other in bubbly rhythms and bracing harmonic freedom. The concerto unfolds in three parts forged into a single sweep of musical evolution. Clarinet and violin alike darted through the virtuosic outer sections with a grace matched by their long-lined playing of the lyrical midsection. (---)

Detroit News.  Lawrence B. Johnson.

Queen Elisabeth Hall, London. Isabelle van Keulen. Michael Collins.                                                                          Philharmonia Orchestra. Paavo Järvi.  Febr. 5, 2006.

(---)Wheeling over to Estonia, we then hit the always interesting Erkki-Sven Tüür and the night’s big novelty, Noesis, an arresting new concerto for violin and clarinet, jointly commissioned by the Philharmonia and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. No soaring melodies here either, though plenty, as usual, to digest and fascinate.
Tüür’s programme note told us that, after exertions on a symphonic whopper featuring electric guitar and big-band jazz, he had planned something “more transparent and lucid”. With the transparency aspect, frankly, he failed. When the very sounds of their instruments, the orchestral textures and the basic material keep coagulating like molten lava, even brilliant artists like Michael Collins and Isabelle van Keulen cannot dance with fairy feet. But lucid? Structurally that was certainly so. Collins’s clarinet, generally hard in tone, leapt and bubbled up an ascending scale; Van Keulen’s violin (more obscured in the sound mix) pirouetted downwards through a scale of her own; then everyone mixed and matched. The three sections of the 20-minute piece were equally well defined: one to lay out the composer’s cards, one to muse lyrically, another to celebrate jazzily before a final withering, and a lone gong. (---)

The Times. Febr. 9, 2006. Geoff Brown


Ardor for marimba and orchestra

2001

25'

solo marimba, 1111, 1110, 1, strings

Fp: Pedro Carneiro (marimba), BBC National Orchestra of Wales

cond. Petri Sakari; Jan. 25. 2002  St. David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales

Commissioned by: BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Gulbenkian Foundation

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD "Oxymoron" ECM (2007) Pedro Carneiro (marimba) 

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, cond. Olari Elts

YOUTUBE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbo4XDH9EsM

Program note

Ardor - a Latin word for heat, flame, flashing, brightness, loved one.

The key pitch of the Marimba Concerto is the low C, which is the lowest note on the five-octave marimba.
I have always been fascinated by the low register of the marimba. Thus the whole work sets out to expose
the row based on the lower C. From here the subsequent harmonic developmental processes and the
remaining rows of the Concerto are derived, as well as the models for subsequent rhythmic developments
in the First and the Third movements.
The Second movement forms a contrast with its treatment of "frozen time". It contains long melodic marimba 
parts, which the strings transform into up to 12-voice slowly changing polyphonic sound fabric. These are
interrupted by quick unexpected replies from the marimba to be answered by the woodwinds, similar in its
effect to digital delay.
As in my earlier instrumental concertos (Cello Concerto and Violin Concerto) the orchestra in the Ardor is
not merely for the accompaniment, but plays the interactive role of an "interpreter", a "disturber" or a
"resounding resonator". The main variable in the work is the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra.
Before the conclusion in the Third movement they are inextricably intertwined. Similarly to my earlier 
compositions, Ardor merges modal and serial techniques, but more than ever before I have concentrated
on the harmonic relations. All the three movements are performed attacca.

As a matter of fact, all that was said before is not so important for the listener, I hope that the musical
events presented in Ardor will unfold like an abstract plot in a film, which, depending on the creative
fantasy of each listener, might take a completely different turn.
Erkki-Sven Tüür  2002

 

Reviews

Pedro Carneiro, marimba;  BBC National Orchestra of Wales, cond. Petri Sakari. World Premiere.

Cardiff, 25. 01. 2002

Erkki-Sven Tuur, Estonia's best-known composer after Arvo Part, has fashioned a virtuoso showpiece for the young Portuguese percussionist Pedro Carneiro. Ardor extends the marimba repertoire. But, more importantly, it also extends the instrument's soundworld.
Tuur declares his interest in opposites, contrasting gritty and insistent rhythmic simplicity with a teasing complexity. The piece constantly sets up contradictions in order to reconcile them, yet Tuur is less concerned with perpetuating the concerto's traditional conflict of soloist and orchestra than allowing instruments to react and interact. Scoring is economical: the BBC National Orchestra of Wales's forces are scaled down to strings, single woodwind, horn, trumpet, cymbals and tom-toms. At its most persuasive, woodwind lines elaborate ideas suggested by the marimba in an intricately wrought tissue of sound.
As Tuur works material into climactic peaks coloured by explosive tom-toms, allegiance to the prog rock of his early career is clear enough. That such forceful intervention reinforces rather than lacerates the structure and allows the marimba to emerge as a surprising melodic voice is a mark of just how secure Tuur's own musical identity now is.
He describes the slow central movement as "frozen time". With harmonics and gentle chimings of bowed cymbal a quiet nod to the tintinnabulation of Part - the marimba's tones suspended like delicate threads - rhythmic outbursts then appear like giant cracks in an icy Baltic landscape. In the finale, accumulated tension is released. But rather than go out on a burst of fire, Tuur indulges his theatrical instinct, taking the work back full circle to its opening low tremolo. Tiny bows replace the mallets, drawing from the marimba's highest pitches searing harmonics that linger briefly. It is a masterly touch to round off Carneiro's dazzling performance.
Understatement is not a word that automatically suggests Anton Bruckner's Seventh Symphony but, conductor Petri Sakari was well aware that the more fragile moments of the third movement's trio section dictate the solidity of the overall structure every bit as much as the weighty brass and wind. The BBCNOW was in resonant form, particularly in the Adagio's heartfelt tribute to Wagner.

The Guardian  Jan.30. 2002  Rian Evans 


Violin Concerto No. 1

dedicated to my father Philipp Tüür

1999

30'

solo violin, 2232, 4231, 1+3, strings

Fp: Isabelle van Keulen (violin) Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra

cond. Hugh Wolff  Sept. 16. 1999   Alte Oper, Frankfurt

Commissioned by: Frankfurt RSO

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD "Exodus" ECM (2003); Isabelle van Keulen (violin)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, cond. Paavo Järvi

Reviews

 

Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Isabelle van Keulen. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Paavo Järvi. May 28, 2002.

The Baltic states seem to be overflowing with composers these days. It was Arvo Part who first established a presence on the international stage, and the younger generations have followed in his wake over the past 10 years, with music that revels in the artistic freedom that has come hand-in-hand with political independence. In a broader European context not all these composers are either interesting or original figures, but the Estonian Erkki-Sven Tuur, born in 1959, does stand out. Performances of his works in this country are still rare, but the British premieres of two of his recent scores formed the centrepiece of the CBSO's programme on Tuesday, when they were conducted by Tuur's compatriot Paavo Jarvi. 

There's a bit of everything in Tuur's music. Serial techniques meld with diatonic harmony, minimalism rubs shoulders with Part's tintinnabulations and the controlled aleatoricism of Lutoslawski. But the way in which these disparate elements are integrated is always impressive and distinctive. The Violin Concerto, first performed in Frankfurt in 1999 by Isabelle van Keulen, who was also the thrillingly assured soloist here, shows Tuur taking on a traditional three-movement form and making something personal out of it. In the opening movement the solo violin exchanges ideas with the orchestra - arpeggios are imitated by the orchestral strings and trigger rippling scales in the woodwind; solo pizzicatos are echoed by pulsing percussion; spiky violin lines interact with dense chords. Relationships constantly change, though the movement does slightly run out of steam just before it merges with the slow movement, where the violin rhapsodises over much more static orchestral material. 

The second and third movements of the concerto do not quite sustain the level of the first but the ideas are always sharply focused and their impact carefully calculated. That's true of Tuur's concert opener, Aditus, as well, starting off with brass and bells and then offering a survey of all his basic musical techniques. It is certainly effective, and sounded spectacular in Symphony Hall.

The Guardian. May 31, 2002   Andrew Clements

 

I confess to venturing to the CBSO's UK premiere of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür's Violin Concerto with some trepidation, dreading the bland, the tonal, the self-congratulatory. How wrong I was.

Tüur, now in his early forties and largely self-taught, is no wafting tunester. A contemporary of James MacMillan, he too evolved from a rock background and clings, even more firmly than MacMillan, to the forceful modernism of Lutoslawski (and others) that initially fired him; unlike the Pärt/Gorecki generation, he sees no cause to eschew it.

Thus, Tüür's Violin Concerto, receiving its UK premiere from Dutch Menuhin prizewinner Isabelle van Keulen – a gripping performer, who attacks Tüür's rasping, spunky arpeggios like a hungry Rottweiler – made a powerful impact. The conductor Paavo Järvi, whose slightly dour bandmaster manner secured excellent ensemble and went on to explore new depths, was backed by the CBSO's nowadays superb, Berlin-like strings in Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony, which was as sneered at in 1945 as Vaughan Williams's Third was after the Great War.

Tüür likes a big orchestra and big noise. Initially, one wondered whether some parings-down might better engender the contrasts he seeks. (There are few such moments, though in the central movement – ushered in by thick, multi-divided double basses alternating with slivers of bowed cymbal, a cluck of bass clarinet and jangle of bell – the solo line emerges like some gorgeous Aphrodite from the wispy foam, at one point with almost Bergian transcendence.)

But astonishingly, the thick textures and endless internal activity seems to add up; most striking was the way Van Keulen's solo line cut through thick hedges of bristling, often contradicting, same-register strings. I never thought I'd hear myself use the word feisty, but here both soloist and piece felt feisty. Punchy, aggressive double-stopping was stunned by a sudden diminuendo, and there she was, hovering, as if over a translucent ground-mist of string harmonics. Magical.

There was plenty more in this anything-but-bland score, from the brush of percussion and the murmur of clarinet and marimba over which she bursts in like a manic Hardanger folk-fiddle player; the acidic blasts of xylophone-nudged brass; a double-bass fade-out as nerve-racking as a disappearing Tube train; big block chordings; a wealth of pierrot-like flute patter and low-lapping strings. Tüür's vivid cadenza, over a clip-clopping wood block accompaniment, neatly heralded the Shostakovich, the clear hero of which was the CBSO's bassoon soloist, Andrew Barnell. 

The Independent. May 31, 2002  Roderick Dunnett.

 

Royal Albert Hall, London. BBC Proms. Isabelle van Keulen. BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Paavo Järvi. August 1, 2003.

At Friday's Prom, the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi led the BBC Philharmonic in his compatriot Erkki-Sven Tüür's remarkable violin concerto. It is a hefty piece, more than half an hour long, but the redoubtable Dutch soloist Isabelle van Keulen, who premiered it in 1999, looked serenely poised throughout its strenuous byways.

Not only the violin part, which begins with frantic sawing of arpeggios, but the whole score sounds athletic and muscularly confident. There's little conventional "development"; rather, in the lengthy first movement, the soloist continually flings out musical ideas which the orchestra seizes upon and alters, feeding them back to her transformed. The second begins in microtonal bass gloom, soon lifted by lyrical flights from the violin, high and bright; the brief final movement unites soloist and orchestra in a race home. It was an afterthought, apparently, and sounds like filling a prescription, without any new ideas. But the whole piece is very striking, and often exciting. Too much has been made, I think, of Tuur's "synthesising" oftonality and atonality, minimalism, serialism and what-have-you; this is simply a composer with his own generous idiom, happy to borrow effects and devices from many sources. He began as a rock musician, and traces of that often surface in his music. (---)

Financial Times. Aug. 4, 2003.  David Murray.

 

 Think of any major violin concerto and you are likely to remember above all its lyricism. Most composers leave the combative side of the medium to their piano works. But the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur has unusually brought the original concept of the concerto as a kind of musical duel between soloist and orchestra to bear in his Violin Concerto, first performed in 1999.

On the face of it, it could have been something of a hotchpotch. Any composer who professes to commune with both minimalism and modernism and creates a single language from their contradictory demands would seem to have given himself something of an impossible task. But there is a highly successful synthesis of these opposing musics to be heard in the work, which received its London premiere at Friday night's Prom by the soloist for whom it was written, the Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen.  In the fighting-fit first movement, minimalist repetition of rhythm, figuration and harmonies are played off against chord clusters and violent, disjunct stabbings; in this case, it is the orchestra that wins, despite the soloist's welter of arpeggios, recalling Schnittke at his most obsessive. But, although there are moments of lyricism, heard in the interlocking string lines with their traces of Arvo Part's Fratres, this is a convincing vindication of a composer playing against the medium's type. The central movement, rising from the orchestral depths and heading for the stars, sees the violin gaining the upper hand and, in the short finale, soloist and orchestra are reconciled in playful rivalry. Van Keulen, whose recording of the work has just been released by ECM Records, was a commanding soloist, unfazed by all the composer hurls at her, both in her own part and the constant bombardment of shattered-glass ideas coming from the orchestra, which in this case was the BBC Philharmonic conducted by fellow Estonian Paavo Jarvi. (---)

Telegraph. Aug. 4, 2003.   Matthew Rye 

 

  Forget the hoopla about thematic programming and anniversaries. It's new music that keeps the Proms fresh, as the  BBC Philharmonic's two weekend concerts demonstrated. 

First, under Paavo Järvi, it gave the London premiere of the Violin Concerto by Järvi's fellow Estonian, Erkki-Sven Tüür. The soloist, Isabelle van Keulen, has played the piece a dozen times since premiering it in 1999, and her interpretation has manifest authority. She opens with mechanistic sawing, but before this rudimentary gesture coalesces into a full-blown theme, woodwinds snatch it from her, transform it and pass it around the orchestra. The soloist again tries to assert herself; this time, high strings steal her thunder. And so it continued. This simple but effective drama easily sustains a long first movement that eventually reaches a furious climax, dominated by drumming that wouldn't be out of place in a rock band. The music subsides into exhausted silence, then low strings shudder back into life. 

 The soloist expands this tiny charge of energy into the lyrical ecstasy for which the first movement had striven, eventually leading the orchestra to a moment of calm that feels like closure; but Tüür adds a brief coda, a frenzied  knees-up, which, with satisfying symmetry, returns us to the concerto's opening gesture. (---)

The Evening Standard.  Nick Kimberley 

 

The nearest we got to high voltage was in the music of Järvi’s friend and compatriot Tüür, whose Violin Concerto was the real blood-curdling meat of this concert, performed by the powerful Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen. 

 Like an athlete, she ran headlong into the theme dominating this intriguing work: a long series of razor-sharp and lightning-quick arpeggios that soon infested the whole of the string section, as soloist and orchestra were thrown into a duel across a battlefield of musical styles. Here were brutally dissonant cluster chords, violent bangs, crashes, slips and slides (think Tom and Jerry); there, the tintinnabulations and wide, still landscapes of that other big Estonian, Arvo Pärt; and now, pestering minimalist mosquitoes, and, even more shockingly, warm moments of trilling, sweet melody. 

The sheer power, scope and energy of this music, whether suppressed and circling madly round itself in insane woodwind passages, or released through huge shudders of brass, percussion and strings, was a sound and sight to behold — the orchestra, though upstaged by the CBSO in a new CD of the work, did a fine job here at least. And van Keulen, still reeling off the arpeggios to the end, was cheered home like a marathon winner. 

The Times.  Aug. 4, 2003.  Matthew Connolly 

 

Music Hall, Cincinnati. Isabelle van Keulen. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Paavo Järvi. Nov. 15. 2001.

How do you attract Beauty (young people) to the Beast's castle (the symphony)?
Sweeten the concert with food, drink and a party, all for $10.
Music director Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony did that and more Thursday night at Music Hall.
The ''more'' was new music, Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur's Violin Concerto in its U.S. premiere.
The ''that'' was a complimentary buffet before the concert. Student tickets were only $10 and University of Cincinnati students were invited to a special post-concert ''Party with Paavo'' in Corbett Tower featuring food, cash bar and acoustic rock by Kevin Fox and Steve Waak (aka ''Cree py Eye'').
Works like Tuur's -- and it has company among a growing body of music being written today -- is what may finally lower the average age (mid-50s) of the current concert audience.
The work shared the program with Carl Orff's 1914 ''Tanzende Faune'' (''Dancing Fauns''), also a U.S. premiere, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4.
Tuur's 1998 work, superbly performed by Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen, proved itself a powerful attraction, for Tuur, 42, has a sonic and structural imagination of the first order.
The classically trained composer, who began his career writing and performing for a progressi ve rock band, sees his Violin Concerto as a progressive dialogue between soloist and orchestra.
The scoring is vibrant, with myriad percussion, including drum set, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, marimba, xylophone and cymbals brushed with a bow (to produce a zinging sound).
The violin asserts itself vigorously in the first movement -- rapid arpeggios, pizzicato, staccato figures -- only to be ''mimicked'' by the orchestra, which at one point overcomes her in sheer density of sound.
As if chastened, the violin turns briefly lyrical, but the interaction begins anew. The brief cadenza, punctuated by temple blocks, suggests exercises (practicing?).
The second movement emerges in stillness with bass rumblings and vibrato-less violin. There is a big climax, after which the orchestra seems to make peace with the soloist, and the movement ends ethereally.
The joyful finale is all jazzy perpetual motion, the violin ''catching her breath'' on an open G before the final flurry.
Audience response was warm, with bows for Tuur and a standing ovation for all. (---)

Cincinnati Post, Mary Ellyn Hutton

 

Paavo Järvi's program Thursday night at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra explored two opposite poles. But the energy created by pairing the avant-garde Violin Concerto by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür with Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 resulted in a buzz after the concert such as has not been heard here in years.
Mr. Järvi's compatriot, Mr. Tüür, has eclectic musical roots that began with his 70s rock band. His Violin Concerto, given its U.S. premiere by Isabelle van Keulen on Thursday, is a work of expressive power and originality that pitted tonal against atonal, ddelicate against massive and simple rhythms against complex.
Ms. van Keulen, 34, who will record the concerto with Maestro Järvi and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, was in absolute command of the work's brilliant figurations. Her supercharged ostinatos in the outer movements--a nod to minimalism--were a perpetual motion of fire and tension. She projected a cool intensity in the slow movement, which began with low, primeval sounds in the orchestra. The finale had enormous rhythmic energy, aided by a counterpoint of percussion.
The orchestra was an admirable partner, taking its impulse from the soloist and going in diverse directions, which included a spectacular jazzy climax in the first movement. Urgent and bright, the concerto held the audience's attention and inspired a standing ovation. The composer took a bow. (---)

Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 November 2001  Janelle Gelfand

 

 


Cello Concerto No 1.

1996

20'

solo cello, 1111, 1100, vibraphone, strings

Fp: David Geringas (cello), Lausanne Chamber Orhestra, cond. Rüdiger Bohn

March 4. 1997  Lausanne, Switzerland

Commissioned by: David Geringas

Publisher: Edition Peters

CD "Flux" ECM (1999) David Geringas (cello) Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Dennis Russell Davies

Reviews

Vale of Glamorgan Festival, 11.09. 2002. Cardiff, Coal Exchange.
David Geringas, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, cond. Petri Sakari


On the anniversary of the attacks of September 11, journey as a metaphor for life was the theme of two of the works in the final concert of the Vale of Glamorgan festival. Ironically, neither Viatore/The Traveller of Peteris Vasks nor Rautavaara's Symphony No 8, The Traveller, succeeded in carrying the emotional or philosophical weight implied by their titles. Instead, it was an unscheduled work by Vasks, and two works by younger contemporaries, Erkki-Sven Tuur and Magnus Lindberg, whose integrity and humanity spoke volumes. Both Tuur's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra and Lindberg's Campana threaded solo lines through a complex fabric of complementary instrumental voices. This seemed to reflect the predicament of individual destiny, suggesting that only by engaging with the here and now can one contemplate the great beyond.
Tuur has an arresting style, abrasive yet eloquent and always lucidly scored. Terse exchanges between soloist David Geringas and vibraphone and wind instruments drew the listener deeper into the music's intricate patterns so that, in the second movement, the cello's expressive, sustained lines came through with disarming clarity.
The Lindberg piece, Bell in Air, was similarly compelling. This concertante work, written in 1998 as a tribute to the conductor, composer and horn-player Esa-Pekka Salonen, celebrated the man and the ideals of his art. As well as being a formidable protagonist in its own right, the solo horn (the brilliant David Pyatt) was involved in a constant dialogue with two horns to the left and right of the woodwind, while remaining open to the ferment of ideas emerging from the orchestra. The tensions generated and resolved through this spatial element were relished by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Petri Sakari. (...)

The Guardian, 13.09.2002. Rian Evans

 

David Geringas, Deutsches Kammerorchester, cond. Markus Poschner.
Philharmonie, Berlin. 18. 01. 2006

Sein Cellokonzert knistert vor Spannung. Es birst vor explosiver Theatralik. Erkki-Sven Tüürs Musik kann man sich kaum entziehen. Sie zwingt zur Konzentration. Ein dramatischer Tusch: Vorhang auf! Der Cellist verbeißt sich in den ersten Ton. Langsam läßt er ihn im Strudel der Mikrointervalle zerfließen. Wie eine Schlingpflanze legt sich das Orchester um die Solostimme und reißt sie mit zu einer Abenteuerreise durch atemberaubende Klanglandschaften. Der estnische Komponist hat seine eigene, ganz individuelle Tonsprache entwickelt.
Mit herber Expressivität und leuchtendem Meditationston vertiefte sich Cellist David Geringas in die Berliner Erstaufführung des Ausnahmewerks. Rauh und geräuschvoll stürmte er die rhythmischen Gipfel, bevor er sich andächtig in die Sphäre alter Kirchenmelodien versenkte. Im Kammermusiksaal gab er dem Konzert den theatralischen Atem und den magischen Feinschliff. Ebenso intensiv agierte das Deutsche Kammerorchester unter Markus Poschners Leitung in seiner vielseitigen Rolle als Schatten, verlängerter Arm und Widerpart des Solisten.
Berliner Morgenpost, 20. 01. 2006

 

Martti Rousi, Tapiola Sinfonietta, cond. Olli Mustonen.
02.04.2004. Helsinki


Taattua laatua Tüüriltä

Tapiola Sinfonietta Espoon kulttuurikeskuksessa. Martti Rousi, sello ja Olli Mustonen, kapellimestari. Respighi, Tüür, Mendelssohn. Virolaisen Erkki-Sven Tüürin sävellyksiltä on tottunut odottamaan paljon, eikä hänen sellokonserttonsa petä odotuksia. Seitsemän vuotta sitten valmistunut konsertto risteilee jännittävästi perinteen ja modernismin välillä, mutta tämä vaikea sekoitus pysyy hyvin hallinnassa.
Parasta Tüürin teoksissa on niiden sujuva eteneminen. Hänellä on vahva musiikillisen dramaturgian taju: hänen ideansa eivät lopu kesken, mutta hän osaa myös olla rasittamatta kuulijaa liialla materiaalilla.
Kaksikymmentä minuuttia kestävässä, yksiosaisessa sellokonsertossa vaikuttavaa on yksityiskohtien vaivaton sulautuminen toisiinsa niin, että tuloksena on hyvin kulkevaa musiikkia. Myös Tüürin sointitaju on hyvä. Sellokonsertossa pääosin diatoninen sävelmateriaali takaa hyvin resonoivan kokonaisilmeen, jota sellaiset modernistisemmat keinot kuin mikrointervallikenttien luomat huojunnat vielä laajentavat. Solisti Martti Rousi porautui elävästi teoksen maailmaan, ja hänen innostuksensa levisi myös Olli Mustosen johtamaan Tapiola Sinfoniettaan. (…)


Helsingin Sanomat,  Samuli Tiikkaja


Bassoon Concerto

2003

21'

solo bassoon, 1111, 1100, vibraphone, strings

Fp: Martin Kuuskmann (bassoon), Umea Symphony Orchestra, cond. Kristjan Järvi

May 15 2003 Umea, Sweden

Commissioned by: Umea SO (Cello Concerto version for Bassoon)

Publisher: Edition Peters