“My pieces are abstract dramas in sound, with individual characters and an extremely dynamic chain of events; unfolding in a space that is constantly shifting, expanding and contracting.” Thus Erkki-Sven Tüür, characterising his highly energetic recent works. The fifth New Series release dedicated exclusively to music by the Estonian composer presents world premiere recordings of two large-scale pieces for orchestral forces. “Strata” and “Noёsis” are played by the Tallinn-based Nordic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Estonian conductor Anu Tali. Both orchestra and conductor make their New Series debuts here.
“Strata”, Tüür’s sixth symphony, which was commissioned and premiered by the Nordic Symphony, consists of one massive 32-minute movement which, in accordance with the geological metaphor of the title, explores the gradual movements and shifting relationship of different musical layers. In the liner notes, fellow composer and musicologist Kerri Kotta emphasizes that for Tüür, who in his earlier work has played with contrasting and contradictory methods and styles, “the symphony is not a post-modern re-enactment of well-known models. Although Tüür carefully avoids direct musical quotations, the traditional aspects of his works become manifest through distinctive rhythmic, melodic, dynamic and affective qualities. These topics articulate the changing surface, where a key or a code gives rise to numerous voices which in their turn make up different textural layers.” Tüür’s compositions since 2002, indeed, follow a new path: “I have invented a method I call "vectorial writing", as the principle of voice-leading in the wider sense follows projections of vectors in different directions. At the same time, the basic material is given by a certain numerical code which acts like a gene in forming the whole composition with all possible mutations and transformations. This technique allows me to achieve much more harmonic variety.”
“Noēsis” was written in response to a commission from Neeme Järvi and premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The solo parts of this concerto for clarinet, violin and orchestra are played on the present recording by Jörg and Carolin Widmann. While Carolin has won unanimous critical acclaim for her renderings of Robert Schumann’s violin sonatas and for her 20th-century music recital “Phantasy of spring”, Jörg Widmann counts among the pre-eminent young composers of our time, as well as one the finest contemporary clarinettists. A portrait-CD of his recent compositions will be issued by ECM in 2011.
Erkki-Sven Tüür was born in 1959 in Kärdla, on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. Largely self-taught, he studied percussion and flute at the Tallinn Music School from 1976 to 1980; later, from 1980 to 1984 he studied composition with Jaan Rääts at the Estonian Academy of Music and took private lessons from Lepo Sumera. In 1979 he founded the chamber rock group "In spe", soon one of the most popular bands in Estonia. Tüür worked as composer, flutist, keyboard player and singer in this ensemble (whose original line-up was reconvened for a final concert in December 2009).
With the advent of "perestroika" Tüür’s music was heard outside Estonia. Success in Finland, initially, in the late 1980s, led to a number of commissioned works, including "Searching for Roots. Hommage a Sibelius" (1990) for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Architectonics VI (1991) commissioned by the Helsinki Festival. “Architectonics VI” also appeared on his ECM New Series debut “Crystallisatio”, issued in 1996. His other ECM albums are “Flux” (recorded 1998), “Exodus” (recorded 2002), and “Oxymoron” (recorded 2003 and 2006).
Tüür’s works have meanwhile been heard around the world and played by many international orchestras and ensembles including the Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Dortmund Opera, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, American Waterways Wind Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, The Hilliard Ensemble, Piano Circus, The Grieg Trio, Cologne Radio Choir, Rascher Saxophone Quartet, and many others.
Among Tüür's numerous awards are the Cultural Prize of the Republic of Estonia (1991 and 1996) and the Art Prize of Baltic Assemble 1998. Today he is a freelance composer based alternately in Tallinn and on the island of Hiiumaa.
Anu Tali (born 1972) graduated from the Tallinn Music High School in 1991, continuing her studies at the Estonian Music Academy, the St Petersburg Conservatory and Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy. With her sister Kadri Tali, she founded the Nordic Symphony Orchestra in 1997. Originally an Estonian-Finnish enterprise, the orchestra eventually came to include players from fifteen countries.