5 August 2017

Erkki-Sven Tuur - Flamma

A rare treat for me happened last night, the BBC Proms featured a Baltic composer. To be brutal, the proms have been rather lackluster this year, mostly because they have felt like they have been working to a formula; more than being genuinely 'bad' or 'lackluster'. Of course the quality of music has been extremely high, and the festival has successfully brought music to a huge collection of various audiences. A part of me however feels a small push of outlandish-ness would really make the festival extremely immense and truly enjoyable.

Anyways back to the point of my post. On Thursday 3rd August the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonic Bremen, under the exquisite baton of Paavo Jarvi, delivered a concert of Brahms, Mozart, and Erkki-Sven Tuur. The pairing I found rather magnificent, as Jarvi's conducting really comes to the fore with these composers, and Erkki-Sven Tuur has a truly witty and cheeky conversational quality to it; that is perfectly compliments Mozart.

Flamma was originally premiered by the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2011, and finally received its British premiere in the Proms. The work is rather typical of Tuur's 'current' period, with its nuanced skill of picking up a huge palette of textures, techniques, and timbres in a singular elegant work; which never resorts to gimmick. The gesturing and shape is vaguely reminiscent of Insula Deserta with its intricate textural gestures and rolling melismas leading into huge powerful climaxes. However Flamma is significantly more 'mature' or at least more obviously the work of a grand master. It is almost like Insula Deserta dosed up on caffeine and amphetamines, ultimately charging like a bull and feeling almost indestructible; definitely a quality Paavo Jarvi manages to pull out of the performance. 

The harmonic language is rich and potent, dissonances never sounding 'forced' and everything just flows. The periods of rich consonance ultimately sound dreamy or in a haze; like a small moment of transcendence from the clattering caused earlier. The score is truly intricate and really shows the composer's ability with such a huge palette. Having had the opportunity to compare the recordings of the Australian performance and Jarvi's performance in the proms, I can without a doubt say Jarvi really knew what to pull out of the score. This could be the result of performing later performances, the premiere is always hardest to produce a personal rendition as conductor; but Paavo Jarvi is really alive within the performance and I can only imagine the sound within the Albert Hall was glorious. 

Erkki-Sven Tuur, has had the privilege of appearing in the proms on multiple occasions, which is not surprising at all, I do hope however that the Proms would be daring to allow more from the Baltic to sneak their way into future festival. I say this now as CBSO have the wonderful Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and that Paavo is a regular guest in the festival too. I can but live and hope. For those who missed the opportunity, you can listen here. Definitely worth a listen, either for the glorious roar of Tuur or the refined conducting of Paavo Jarvi.

Until next time.

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