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Erkki-Sven Tüür: Symphony No. 9 ‘Mythos’, etc

Estonian Festival Orchestra/Paavo Järvi (Alpha Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Erkki-Sven Tüür
Symphony No. 9 ‘Mythos’; Incantation of the Tempest; Sow the Wind…
Estonian Festival Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
Alpha Classics ALPHA 595   60:06 mins

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Following Beethoven’s landmark example and subsequent music history, the arrival of a ninth symphony carries a particular weight of expectation. In his Symphony No. 9, Mythos, commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 2018, Erkki-Sven Tüür rises magnificently to the challenge.

Cast in a single movement, this thrilling 35-minute work explores new pathways for the composer in an idiom entirely modern and his own while at the same time, inspired by Finno-Ugric mythology, delivering an emphatic testament to Estonian independence and national identity.

Both the symphony and 2015’s Sow the Wind… – the other substantial work in this spirited live recording from the Estonian Festival Orchestra, conducted by Mythos dedicatee Paavo Järvi – are essentially abstract despite the programmatic suggestion of their titles. Both deploy techniques of continual transformation in Tüür’s trademark quest for organic development. But where the earlier work builds motivic cells into self-described ‘whirlwinds’, the symphony feels hewn from a single block of granite without sacrificing any richness of local colour or invention. Gestures unfold as if from the inside, imparting in beautifully controlled waves the profound elemental power that’s also compressed into the accompanying short Incantation of the Tempest.

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Steph Power