ECM New Series 449-459-2
Architectonics VI sounds like one of those titles that are too good to resist, and it is to
the credit of the Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür that he admits as much in the brief
interview in the booklet to this beguiling new disc (the sumptuous annotation in English is
translated in reduced form in German and French). I cannot say that Tüür's piece -
written in 1992 - strikes me as particularly architectonic in construction (well, any more
than the music of a hundred other composers), but it is well put together and effective on
its own terms. Passion and Illusion, both for string orchestra and composed in 1993, are
closer in spirit to the prevailing 'New Simplicity' of current East Baltic composition.
Passion, indeed, is occasionally reminiscent of Tüür's better-known compatriot (and ECM
stablemate), Arvo Pärt, although the brief Illusion has a curiously English feel to it.
The title track, Crystallisatio (1995), is scored for three flutes, bells, string
orchestra and live electronics and is somewhat more demanding in scope. It is here that Tüür's synthesis
of minimalism with serial techniques is heard most eloquently; not wholly achieved,
perhaps, but fascinating in application.
By far the biggest piece is the Requiem (1992-3; in memory of the conductor Peeter Lilje). It is a deeply felt, half-hour-long setting of the mass for the dead, and is of markedly different character to the other pieces on this release. My first impression was that it did not quite work, but repeated hearings of all the pieces are modifying that judgement.
This is a handsomely produced, thought-provoking release. ECM may be looking for a new Pärt, but Tüür is his own man. Anyone wanting to hear up-to-the-minute new music that will not sear the ears off his (or her) head could do little better than try this new disc.
(From: Gramophone, July 1996)