OUTI TARKIAINEN (b.1985): The Earth, Spring’s Daughter for Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, Saivo for Soprano Saxophone, Effects and Orchestra.

Catalogue Number: 08W062

Label: Ondine

Reference: ODE 1353-2

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: In Tarkiainen's powerful, readily approachable works, the composer seeks to create vivid images of the natural world and comment on its changing relationship with human beings, with especial emphasis on indigenous cultures, their rituals and folklore, and sidelining in the name of 'progress'. There is nothing 'new agey' about her approach; the music is neo-romantic, big-boned stuff, with a prevailing sense of darkness and depth and no shortage of dramatic confrontation. Her idiom is very tonal; although she typically avoids consistent key centres, harmonic motion is always present, with many instances of ravishing triadic harmony and the frequent use of pedal points (symbolising the underlying strength and stability of nature) which provides a stable tonal foundation for the restless activity above. The Earth, Spring’s Daughter is a large ‘symphonic' song cycle in symmetrical form in which recurring motifs are used cyclically, which lends it a potent dramatic contour. The texts draw on the history and traditions of the Sámi people, the Laplanders, and use their one-ness with nature and the oppression they suffered as a metaphor for the creation and despoiling of the earth. Spring gives birth to the Earth, which is covered by snow. The people are forced to migrate, and their lands "Our Father's Estate" is divided (a movement of intense propulsive momentum); the Earth itself suffers from climate change and exploitation. These desolate movements are followed by the culmination of the work, in which the narrator becomes one with nature, in a passage of mounting grandeur. The saxophone concerto's title, Saivo, means a Sámi sacred place which acts as a bridge between two worlds, a lake which contains an inverted, reflected world in its depths. The five-movement concerto is mysterious and powerfully evocative. Electronic reverberation is applied, live, to the solo instrument, subtly blurring the boundary between its sound and the orchestral textures in which it is ‘reflected'. The first movement is tense and shadowy; micro-intervallic inflections of the solo line add to the fluidity and indeterminacy of the music. The second movement is a turbulent vortex of rapid motion, while the third is a monumental, sonorous slow movement built on towering pillars of sound and wild, primitive sounds. A static, shimmering movement, "Reflection" follows, and then the finale, which begins with eerie, strident, baying multiphonics from the saxophone, backed by amorphous, shifting planes of orchestral texture, building to a huge, sonorous climax crowned by the wildly whooping saxophone. The music evaporates into the spirit world in a brief, mysterious coda. Sámi-English texts. Virpi Räisänen (mezzo), Jukka perks (sax), Lapland Chamber Orchestra; John Storgårds.

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