TINOCO The Blue Voice of the Water
Anyone who has spent time on the Algarve knows how rich and varied its maritime life is. In expanding upon his guiding metaphor for this collection of recent orchestral music, the Portuguese composer Luís Tinoco notes the orchestra’s allowance for field depth: the way in which, as in the sea, a surface instrumental gesture can lead to fathoms-deep expansion.
The title composition, The Blue Voice of the Water, gives ample display of this. A frequently used technique for exploring depth is the cross-fading of instrumental sounds. The work’s opening section deftly melds the sounds of piano cluster, clarinet, cymbal and strings; the resultant orchestral aggregate recalls Ligeti without the atonal harshness and gives the impression of light glimpsed from far underwater. Indeed, such is the score’s restraint and limned clarity (matched by the Gulbenkian Orchestra’s sensitive performance) that at times one almost feels one is listening to a chamber orchestra. Lucid engineering allows us to appreciate the colouristic detail in full.
Tinoco uses an extended tonality without recourse to over-familiar tropes or empty bombast. The Cello Concerto opens with a falling minor third figure, distorted, as in water’s ripples, by layered pianissimo string chords. The cello, when it enters, lyrically expands upon this material. Midway through the movement, a descending scalar theme enters in the winds, gradually spreading outwards to take over the musical activity. A subsequent shivering tremolo motif provides contrast, before in the final movement eventually taking over. The meditative conclusion features Gamelan gongs. Filipe Quaresma shines in particular in the second movement’s opening solo.
Of the other two works here, Frisland (dedicated to the jazz guitarist Bill Frisell) pursues a triadic chaconne-like figure in extended tonality; trumpet adds jazzy effects and the layering of sound strata achieves a dreamlike, monumental effect. Before Spring: A Tribute to ‘The Rite’, meanwhile, homes in on small moments in Stravinsky’s score, expanding them into new vistas in Tinoco’s characteristic style.