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Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Tüür: Symphony no 7 'Pietas', Piano ConcertoLaura
Mikkola (piano), NDR Choir, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Paavo
composer Erkki-Sven Tüür's 2006 Piano Concerto sounds spectacular
on this ECM disc. It's the sense of air, the colour – this is
extravagantly scored music, but Tüür always gives his ideas space
to blossom and breathe. Not that there's any indulgence and waffle
either; a strength of the work is its concision, and after 20 minutes
you're left wishing the work was longer. The years that Tüür spent
as keyboardist and composer for the Tallinn prog-rock outfit In Spe
must have helped him think quickly and avoid indulgence. The
concerto's three-movement structure is easy to assimilate – the
slow, primeval opening music smartly realised. Soloist Laura Mikkola
slowly summons a recalcitrant orchestra into life, starting with a
thunderous pedal C. Her playing is beyond reproach. At times it's as
if there's a third hand helping out – a brilliant passage four
minutes into the opening section has a high staccato one-note pattern
ringing out over fiendish swoops and swirls in left hand.
Tüür's percussion writing is spectacular, especially in the
groovier finale. And he leaves us wanting more; the concerto's coda a
haunting, bleached landscape.
choral Symphony no 7 is subtitled Pietas – in
Paul Griffiths' words, “the symphony, as voiced by its voices, is
prayer.” That the vocal sections are sung in English translation
does highlight the occasional banalities of texts which could have
been extracted from The Little Book of Calm. The
thoughts of the great Jimi Hendrix sit a little uneasily alongside
those of Mother Teresa and Saint Augustine. Somehow it all hangs
together though – the luminous orchestral textures offer consistent
pleasure, and Tüür's choral writing is assured and idiomatic.
Excellent performances and superb engineering.