TÜÜR Symphony No 5. Prophecy
Faced with the unusual commission for a large-scale symphonic work for orchestra and big band, Estonia’s leading symphonist decided to make things even more challenging by adding ‘improvisational layers’ for rock guitarist. Given his own roots as a rock musician, this was anything but an opportunistic gambit, and the unlikely mix generates the kinds of tensions – large-scale as well as on the surface – of which fine symphonies are made. This one lasts close on 40 minutes and shadows the traditional four-movement design, not out of laziness but clearly because that’s what the material itself demands. The sonic components meet on the level of elementalised sound-blocks and motivic shapes, go their separate ways, clash and congeal, in ways that range from the fascinating to the downright spellbinding.
The 20-minute Prophecy for accordion and orchestra is another fine display of harmony and texture melted down to a malleable substance all the composer’s own. Whether the title itself is necessary, I’m not so sure. The piece was conceived as a concerto, and while exhibitionism is clearly subordinate to more serious aims, a concerto is still what it feels like.
Comparisons with Nørgård and Aho are probably beside the point, except to say that if they are your idea of first-rate contemporary symphonists and concerto-writers – as they are mine – you’re likely to find Tüür worthy of their company. And of course if you already know Tüür, this new disc, superbly performed, recorded and annotated as it is, will be self recommending in any case. Ondine does not claim the Symphony as a premiere recording but I’m not aware of any rival; nor does the composer’s website list one.