Violin Concerto No. 3 "Kõnelused Tundmatuga"



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

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

cond. Andris Poga

May 15th 2020 Alte Oper, Frankfurt

This premiere was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic

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

Publisher: Edition Peters

Violin Concerto No. 2 "Angel's Share"

dedicated to UBC



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


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

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


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.  (---)

Chris Garlick  Sept. 22. 2018

Solastalgia for piccolo flute and orchestra



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)


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.(---)  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. (...)  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. (---)   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    19 December 2019


Clarinet Concerto "Peregrinus Ecstaticus"



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

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


in 2 parts

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



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)



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



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



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




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



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


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)



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. (---)  Mary Ellyn Hutton. 14.05.2011




Noesis for violin, clarinet and orchestra Play


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


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



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


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



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



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



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



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


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



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