PERFORMER: Absolute Ensemble/Kristjan Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 01812 (distr. Discord)
The Estonian-born composer Erkki-Sven Tüür throws his musical net wide. In these seven pieces – composed between 1984 and 1992 – there are imprints of minimalism, Baroque and Renaissance pastiche, post-Schoenbergian expressionism, experimental rock, and a whole lot else besides. On the whole I prefer the less wildly eclectic Tüür of the more recent Third Symphony and Cello Concerto (ECM), where the narrower stylistic focus tends to be matched by a gain in expressive power. But there’s life in this music, and continual evidence of an enquiring mind, even when Tüür is clearly imitating Sixties and Seventies Western European models. It could so easily have sounded dated (like the title), but the end result has a fresh, questioning quality which takes the music beyond issues of intellectual fashion. In his placing of opposites side by side – tonality and atonality, innocence and brutality, clichés ancient and modern alongside original invention – Tüür holds the attention, creating musical story-lines which don’t so much evolve as circle nervously. It’s all performed with conviction and polish, with sound engineered and mixed atmospherically.