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Erkki-Sven Tüür - orchestral music

Tüür: Symphony No. 6 'Strata'
Noēsis: Concerto for clarinet, violin and orchestra

Jörg Widmann (clarinet) & Carolin Widmann (violin)
Nordic Symphony Orchestra/Anu Tali

ECM New series: 4763799

Two large-scale orchestral works by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, “abstract dramas in sound", make this an absorbing listen, if a hard one to write about.

Each is in a single span, 30 & 20 mins respectively. You are not left feeling short-changed with 50 mins of music. The symphony is for a large modern orchestra, its timbric potentials manipulated with skill, mostly evolving slowly, 'Strata' apparently inspired about geological formations and their gradual evolution to how we see them over long periods of time, a metaphor which some may find helpful.

It is all continually in flux in a way that holds attention. As often with ECM, the 5-page essay Vectorial Voices (Kerri Kotta) leave little residue; Tüür's own notes on the two works are far more engaging. lack of harmonic movement is sometimes frustrating. Strata is paired here with Noésis, the concerto for violin, clarinet and orchestra that Tüür composed for Carolin and Jörg Widmann four years ago; it's an exercise in fusion, beginning with the solo instruments as distinct musical entities, and gradually bringing them into a closer relationship. Andrew Clements of The Guardian finds it all "beautifully played, but ultimately inconsequential", whatever that means?Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra (NSO)Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra (NSO)

I guess Tüür is very happy with the performances and ECM's recordings by Anu Tali the young conductor for whom he wrote 'Strata', and so were we. So far as one can judge in this repertoire, Estonia has a world class orchestra, which seems to have evolved from the Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra (NSO), founded by Anu & managed by her twin sister !

Peter Grahame Woolf

Image; Tüür & Anu Tali with score of Strata on the wall