Tüür’s compositions cover many genres: orchestral and chamber music, oratorios, film scores and incidental music. He has twice won the prestigious Cultural Prize of the Republic of Estonia, and now works as a freelance composer based in Tallinn: ‚My work as a composer is entirely concerned with the relation between emotional and intellectual energy and the ways in which they can be channelled, accumulated, liquidated and re-accumulated. My pieces are abstract dramas in sound, with characters and an extremely dynamic chain of events. I am very interested in a combination of opposites – tonality versus atonality, regular repetitive rhythms versus irregular complex rhythms, tranquil meditativeness versus explosive theatricality – and especially in the way they gradually change from one to another.‘
This ECM disc makes an excellent introduction to Tüür’s music. The playing of the Viennese orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies is alert and secure, which it needs to be. And the recorded sound has admirable clarity and bloom. The Symphony No. 3 is a strong two-movement piece, just under 30 minutes long. It has some interesting, compelling sounds, such as the opening phase featuring the unusual combination of cymbal and double-bass. Thereafter the style is symphonic in the sense of having a constant organic growth, so that when the ending is reached the feeling of arrival is experienced. The performance seems compelling (there are no others with which to make comparisons), for which all praise to the orchestra and conductor.
David Geringas is a fine cellist who is known for his commitment to contemporary music. For example, he recently made a strong impression playing the Concerto of Peteris Vasks. Tüür’s Concerto is a single movement of just over 20 minutes. The solo-orchestra balance is well caught by the recording, and is fundamental to a work in which quality of sound is so important. The growth of sound from silence is tellingly used, so too the timbre of extended instrumental lines. Such music requires dedicated performance, and it receives it here.
Lighthouse is another single movement piece, this time for twelve minutes and employing a string orchestra. The opening is arresting and discordant, but as the music proceeds so concordant extended lines of string sound become increasingly the centre of focus. In the later stages there is much activity and rhythmic vitality, so that the final bars make an exciting peroration. Again it is hard to imagine the music better performed or recorded.