Evelyn Glennie / Paavo Järvi

Tüür: Magma

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Tüür: Magma Review

by Stephen Eddins

Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959) is among those composers who draw liberally on the broadest range of musical influences and incorporate them into a personal style that is more an organic integration than a pastiche. Tüür began his musical career in a rock band, and those roots are evident in his music, as well as a native minimalism based on ancient runic singing, and the full arsenal of contemporary compositional techniques. His music bears some resemblance to that of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara in the immediacy of its appeal and the eclecticism of its sources. Tüür's Magma grew out of a request by Evelyn Glennie for a percussion concerto, but the composer elected to make it a symphony featuring a percussion soloist to emphasize the integrality of the soloist and the orchestra, rather than their opposition. The composer characterizes the work's opening as "the starry sky at midnight reflected on the very still water of the lake," and he is entirely successful in evoking that image in his music -- gently shimmering clouds of woodwinds flecked with glistening metallic percussion. The single-movement work includes four contrasting sections corresponding to the movements of a traditional symphony. The rhythmically and timbrally inventive percussion solo gives the piece an attractively colorful variety of textures and moods, and its tumultuous, organically evolving development makes the title entirely apt. Inquiétude du fini, for chamber choir and orchestra, and Igavik, for male choir and orchestra, somehow evoke the aesthetic of Arvo Pärt without sounding at all like Pärt. The Path and the Traces, for strings, was written as a tribute to Pärt, and contains some direct allusions to his music, but again, is distinctive and original and could never be mistaken for the work of the older composer. Tüür's colorful, evocative, and emotionally communicative music should find an appreciative audience as it is more broadly distributed internationally. Evelyn Glennie plays with spectacular virtuosity in Magma, creating the sound of what could very reasonably be assumed to be a fully staffed orchestral percussion section. The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and the Estonian National Male Choir perform with delicacy and raw vigor, as required, under Paavo Järvi's nuanced and supple leadership. The sound quality is clean and spacious.

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