Táár: Symphony No. 3; Cello Concerto; Lighthouse

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COMPOSERS: Táár
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Cello Concerto; Lighthouse
PERFORMER: David Geringas (cello); Vienna RSO/Dennis Russell Davies
CATALOGUE NO: 465 134-2

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One always turns to the latest release from ECM with keen anticipation – its director Manfred Eicher has an unerring instinct for finding the freshest and most innovatory voices in new music. This new CD contains three orchestral pieces by the 40-year old Estonian composer Erki-Sven Tuur, a generation younger than his famous compatriot Arvo Pärt but already developing a big reputation. The music of the two composers couldn’t be more different; Pärt is all rapt stillness, whereas Táár flings the most extreme contrasts at the listener. Sometimes these brutally interrupt each other, but more often one grows out of the other. For example, a serene passage of warm familiar chords on strings will become infected with cold burbling dissonances in the wood-wind; this new sound then takes over. This tussle of opposites needs a performance of maximum intensity and vividness to be convincing, and the Austrian Radio Orchestra certainly provide it. But even their best efforts couldn’t hide the fact that Táár’s sudden contrasts are based on a few gambits which are endlessly recycled. After a while the arbitrary procession of grinding dissonances, yawning silences and ticking ostinati starts to appear suspiciously easy and predictable. And that’s when you stop wanting to listen.

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Ivan Hewett