“Lijnen” is the first ECM album devoted to the music of Helena Tulve. Born in 1972, Tulve studied with Erkki-Sven Tüür at the Estonian Academy of Music, but is also amongst the first wave of Estonian composers to have completed her musical education beyond her country’s borders, a possibility unavailable to artists who grew up in the years of Soviet rule. Tulve headed for Paris where she took first prize in Jacques Charpentier’s composition class and also studied at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM. There were also master classes with György Ligeti and Marco Stroppa, as well as studies of Gregorian chant and more.
Although Tulve has said that the Estonian landscape and language has influenced her work her musical universe has also absorbed influences from the French ‘Spectralist’ school and from electronic and electro-acoustic music, and is distinguished by a fresh and fluid approach to form, sound and sonority that also implies points of contact with the textures and timbres of non-idiomatic improvisation. Or as Wolfgang Sandner puts it in the liner notes, “Nothing is disqualified in her music, nothing substituted, nothing suppressed or supplanted. One of the fine qualities of her music is that much of it works as if it were not composed, as if it just happened, as if the instrument were playing itself rather than being played, as if the music were emanating from a set of wind chimes. In her music, forms do not jostle their way into the foreground. Their structures are like rocks or trees: everything is self-evident; much is gnarled, much is beautiful; some things are mysterious, others plain as day. It begins, it develops, and at the end it possesses consistency – in memory.” Recognised as a major composer in Estonia where she was voted Musician of the Year in 2005, her reputation is steadily spreading through the wider world, with awards including the International Rostrum of Composers Prize (1999) and the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Prize for Composition (2006).
Tulve’s ECM debut amounts to a summary of directions her music has taken in the last decade. “Lijnen”, the title piece, is a dedication to Luciano Berio. Written in 2003, the year of the Italian composer’s death, it sets poetry by Roland Jooris that is concerned with enduring and penetrating influence: “The reed suggests the absent wind.” Arianna Savall, in her second ECM appearance (the first was with Rolf Lislevand) is the singer. The ensemble – as on “à travers”, “abysses”, and “cendres”, is the NYDD Ensemble, the chamber ensemble dedicated to contemporary music, which took its name from the NYYD (“now” in Estonian) Festival. Conductor Olari Elts formed the NYYD Ensemble in 1993 and has been incorporating Tulve’s music in its repertoire throughout the group’s history. Elts and the NYYD Ensemble previously appeared on ECM New Series playing Erkki-Sven Tüür’s “Salve Regina” and “Oxymoron” (ECM 1919, released in 2007).
Arianna Savall, born into a family of distinguished Catalan musicians, is active as a singer and harpist across genres from early music to experimental music and improvisation. she has recorded widely, under her own name and as a member of ensembles led by Jordi Savall, Montserrat Figueras, Rolf Lislevand and others.
Of the flutists featured on “abysses”, Mihkel Peäske is a member of NYYD, and Emmanuelle Ophèle-Gaubert has worked with the Ensemble InterContemporain under Pierre Boulez, both on recordings and in concert.
The Silesian String Quartet, heard on “nec ros, nec pluvia”, was founded in 1978 by graduates of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice. The quartet has performed more than 1000 concerts around the world since then, with a strong emphasis on contemporary music directions, and a burgeoning discography that includes acclaimed recordings of Górecki, Penderecki, Symanowski, Lutoslawski and more.
The Stockhokm Saxophone Quartet, heard on “Öö”, has collaborated with NYDD in the past and has stayed at the forefront of new music developments since the1970s. The group was founded 35 years ago, and its personnel has remained stable for the last 20 years. The quartet has worked with many composers including Tüür, Xenakis, Donatoni, and Pousseur.
CD booklet includes liner notes by Wolfgang Sandner in German and English, poetry of Roland Jooris in Dutch and English, and liner photos.