Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Erkki-Sven Tüür premiere
With a population of just over 1 million, Estonia, one of the EU’s newer small countries, is significantly smaller than Scotland. While new in terms of joining the EU, Estonia is, of course, like Scotland in that it is a much more ancient and historic nation that punches above its weight in terms of culture and the arts. Its capital, Tallinn, will be European Capital of Culture next year but, for now, two of Estonia’s most prominent artists come to Scotland as part of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Spring season under the banner Symphonies of the North. Tallinn born conductor Olari Elts is a long-time champion of the music of compatriot Erkki-Sven Tüür. His Symphony No 8, which was commissioned and is being premiered by the SCO, was written at Elts’ suggestion.
‘It is almost like a chamber symphony’ says Tüür, ‘with several chamber-like passages, but the intense tectonic shifts between sound masses are equally important. So, I simply added it to the list of my symphonies without granting it a separate ‘chamber symphony’ status.’
Talking about his music more generally, he describes his pieces as ‘abstract dramas in sound, with characters and an extremely dynamic chain of events; they unfold in a space that is constantly shifting, expanding and contracting.’
The new symphony is divided into three movements, each one instructed on the score to be performed attacca, a musical term meaning pretty much ‘get on with it.’ Tüür says that the symphony has a sense of ‘being on the road’, with organic development and fluidity being crucial to the music. ‘The best approach I can recommend,’ he says, ‘is prejudice-free listening. This way, everyone can create their very own unique story while listening to the music.’
Symphonies of the North, City Halls, Glasgow, Fri 30 April; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 1 May