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Erkki-Sven Tuur: Ärkamine (Awakening) / Daniel Reuss

Album Summary

>Tuur, Erkki-Sven : Awakening (Arkamine), for chorus & chamber orchestra
>Tuur, Erkki-Sven : The Wanderer's Evening Song (Randaja ohtulaul), for mixed choir a cappella
>Tuur, Erkki-Sven : Insula Deserta
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

A cross section of choral and orchestra works by Tuur (b. 1959). Among them is the world premier recording of Awakening written in 2011. According to Tuur, Awakening contemplates the springtime mystery of nature's rebirth, embracing both the Christian conception of the world and the rather more pantheistic comprehension of creation peculiar to ancient Estonians. The Wanderer's Evening Song is a choral setting of poems by Enno and written for the EPCC's 20th anniversary in 2001. Insula deserta, for string orchestra, became Tuur's 1st great success outside of Estonia.

American Record Guide
This is an eye-opening (and ear-opening) release, which firmly establishes Tnnr as a major figure. I wasn't in my previous encounters entirely convinced of the importance of this composer's music, but I am now. Performances are startling, which shouldn't come as a surprise from these forces.

MusicWeb International
This is a highly approachable score, full of colourful harmonies and transparent textures, as well as having mysterious depths to go along with the more overtly joyful gestures. Some moments are comparable to the kinds of open musical expression of Americans such as John Adams and Steve Reich, and with the strong Estonian choral tradition pushing the piece onwards like wind in the sails of a galleon. This makes for compulsive listening from beginning to end.

When the bolder, more stylistically emancipated perspectives of [Tnnr's] recent music meet the direct, almost vibrato-less timbres of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the results are more than musically impressive; they are spiritually stirring.

the music itself... is quite attractive. The performances are all splendid, and so is the sound. ... Tnnr [is] a composer of real quality...

The Guardian
Beautifully delivered by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Daniel Reuss, it's a poised, rather austerely beautiful piece, in which Tnnr's characteristically dense proliferations emerge only in the instrumental writing. The a cappella settings of Ernst Enno in 2000's The Wanderer's Evening Song inhabit an equally delicate soundworld to evoke a similar sense of wonder at the natural world's beauties.

Gramophone Magazine
Tnnr's ability to transmute if not base metal into gold then at least the familiar into the magical is immediately evident...Tnnr's shimmering, twinkling, yet at the same time edgy textures may be an acquired taste. I can only say that I feel greatly enriched for having acquired it.

International Record Review
The performances seem idiomatic and assured...It's good, too, to see the Helsinki-based Ondine continuing its policy of presenting composers from other Baltic countries. This thoughtful music is evidence of the rich harvests to be reaped.

Ärkamine (Awakening) ... deals with the human yearning for higher spiritual awareness experienced through immersion in the natural world, it weaves together idiomatic choral writing with radiant contemporary orchestral colors. The Wanderer's Evening Song, an unaccompanied choral work ... also address the interconnectedness of nature and spirituality. Its beginning reflects the meditative atmosphere of twilight using imagery of a northern forest, but it progresses toward a surging ecstasy of a soul's awakening, expressed in music of tremendous excitement, that recalls the powerful choral pulsing in Reich's The Desert Music. Daniel Reuss draws gorgeous performances from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Sinfonietta Riga, who sing and play with sumptuous tone and spacious expressiveness. Ondine's sound is full, warmly detailed, and realistically present. Highly recommended for fans of new orchestral and choral music.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Methodist Church, Tallin, Estonia (05/31/2011-06/03/2011).


Erkki-Sven Tuur/Arkamine/The Wander/Insula Deserta/Ondine
It is not this reviewers intent to disparage the music of Mr. Tuur. He is a very capable Finnish composer who does have a consistency of style and lots of technique. I often wonder how much personal taste pollutes our perception but In my opinion (And I hardly trust my opinion), he is nowhere on the same plain as his fellow countryman Saariaho nor a dozen European composers that spring to mind. Im sure there are many who would think Mr. Tuur a top tier composer and I respect their opinion, so for arguments sake, ignore me. There would be a kind of concertgoer who would find his music accessible yet modern and not in anyway offensive. I personally wish he was way more offensive.

The first cut is Arkamine, for orchestra and chorus and opens promisingly with gorgeous open string arpeggiations with various spectral composer touches in the orchestration. The orchestration is beautifully handled throughout. It is just when the choral part starts it seems way too traditional for the orchestra part. After a while, I tried to imagine the choral part is a kind of dream from the past with all this creative orchestration and imaginative pitch choices floating around it. Yet I could only maintain that for so long. It reminded me a bit of Brittens later works (60s on), only Britten did it so much more convincingly in that the traditional part was so much fresher and musical.

The second cut is The Wanders Evening Song for mixed chorus and opens with long sustain pedals with a Gregorian like melody around it. Sometimes the pedals Expand to pandiatonic mush chords, other times the sustains are more strident and dissonant. The piece gradually becomes more tuney in an Estonian pop way, and then closes by returning to the more somber Gregorian melody at the end. Again, I felt the music was overly accessible in a cheesy way.

The final cut is Insula Deserta for orchestra and again it is an uncomfortable mixture of avant gardeish and traditional writing. Here the music seems to progress more from the modern to the tradition as its kind of raison dtre. Parts sound vaguely reminisant of John Adams Shaker loopsthe two composers sharing an aesthetic of melding history with the progressive or accessibleness with serious intent. I am a fan of Adams music but with Mr. Tuur-he panders too much to a pops- concert sensibility without a real, original voice. By the way, there is nothing wrong with accessibility.

Submitted on 12/28/11 by Mike Maguire 
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Works Details

>Erkki-Sven Tüür (Composer) (1959 - ) : Awakening (Ärkamine), for chorus & chamber orchestra
  • Conductor: Daniel Reuss
  • Ensemble: Sinfonietta Riga
  • Notes: Methodist Church, Tallin, Estonia (05/31/2011-06/03/2011)
  • Running Time: 36 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Erkki-Sven Tüür (Composer) (1959 - ) : The Wanderer's Evening Song (Rändaja ohtulaul), for mixed choir a cappella
  • Conductor: Daniel Reuss
  • Ensemble: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
  • Notes: Methodist Church, Tallin, Estonia (05/31/2011-06/03/2011)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001

>Erkki-Sven Tüür (Composer) (1959 - ) : Insula Deserta
  • Conductor: Daniel Reuss
  • Ensemble: Sinfonietta Riga
  • Notes: Methodist Church, Tallin, Estonia (05/31/2011-06/03/2011)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary