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Posted December 28, 2011
It is not this reviewer¿s 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. I¿m 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 Britten¿s later works (60¿s 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 Wander¿s 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 d¿être. Parts sound vaguely reminisant of John Adam¿s Shaker loops¿the two composers sharing an aesthetic of melding history with the progressive or accessibleness with serious intent. I am a fan of Adam¿s 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.