Hannu Lintu conducts Tüür’s Peregrinus Ecstaticus, Noēsis and Le poids des vies non vécues

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Peregrinus Ecstaticus; Noēsis; Le poids des vies non vécues
PERFORMER: Christoffer Sundqvist (clarinet), Pekka Kuusisto (violin); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu

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For a country with a population roughly half that of Wales, Estonia has produced a remarkable number of internationally successful composers in recent years – quite apart from Arvo Pärt. Prominent among those brought up under Soviet occupation is Erkki-Sven Tüür – the leader of a progressive rock band who turned to classical composition. His early, far-ranging eclecticism has since matured into a style as instinctively Nordic as it is Baltic.

It’s no wonder that Tüür is drawn to orchestral writing, given the penchant for propulsive, large-scale elementalism that is fully evident in this, the third release in an ongoing series from Ondine devoted to his music. Here the main dramas pit soloist/s against orchestra, with a complementary single (clarinet) and double (violin and clarinet) concerto placed either side of the heartfelt 2014 orchestral elegy, Le poids des vies non vécues (The Weight of Unlived Lives). Peregrinus Ecstaticus (2012) and Noēsis (2005) are substantial, tumultuous works exploring the interplay between twin opposing poles. The Finnish Radio Orchestra and its chief conductor, Hannu Lintu, are joined with gusto by two superb soloists: the Finns’ principal clarinet, Christoffer Sundqvist, together in the latter work with violinist extraordinaire, Pekka Kuusisto – whom he matches in precision and liquid tone.

Tüür’s material is passionately direct, with intricate, trailing lines and passages of ominously intense stasis punctuated by explosive climaxes. Lintu shapes it with spirit – and mostly convincingly. In Noēsis especially, some orchestral details are submerged where the soloists are over-prominent in a bright-sounding mix, but the recording is otherwise sensitive to the composer’s structural processes.

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Steph Power