Táár: Violin Concerto; Aditus; Exodus

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COMPOSERS: Táár
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Aditus; Exodus
PERFORMER: Isabelle van Keulen (violin); CBSO/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 472 497-2

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A constantly shifting relationship between violin and orchestra, continually growing and changing materials and a kaleidoscopic instrumental palette define Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Violin Concerto of 1998. Minimalist scrubbing melds into Expressionistic polyphony, into controlled aleatoricism, into post-serial angularity, into clangorous bells and then (a real surprise, 5:06 mins in) into ecstatic diatonic melody of Barber/Szymanowski sweetness. Such ardent declarations, arising from the welter of absorbing sonic invention through the first two movements, help to make this one of the most impressive and stimulating contemporary concertos: it has a heart, even if only occasionally worn on the sleeve, and it’s never simply a post-modern mélange but a purposeful combination of resources to further a genuine musical argument. Only the busy, brisk finale is something of a let-down. (Tüür originally thought two movements would be enough, and he may have been right.) But even so, the work confirms Tüür as one of the leading composers from the Baltic. Though the Concerto was originally written for Gidon Kremer, Isabelle van Keulen has made it her own and seems to make light of its multifarious technical challenges, achieving really beautiful tone when it’s required. The CBSO, superbly caught in this recording just after giving the UK premiere, is on absolutely top form. Its commitment shines through the other two items of the disc. If Aditus, dedicated to the memory of Tüür’s friend and sometime teacher Lepo Sumera, doesn’t strike me as among his most compelling scores, Exodus, dedicated to the CBSO and Paavo Järvi, is a powerful showpiece, emerging out of initial blackness into an impulsive and even joyous extended toccata. Calum MacDonald