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Compelling energy

Music by Tüür, Sibelius and Rachmaninov, reviewed by HOWARD SMITH

Warner    2564 61992-2

Anu Tali. Nordic Symphony Orchestra. Action Passion Illusion. Tüür, Rachmaninov, Sibelius. © 2005 Warner Classics

Expressive works by these three northern composers sit comfortably side by side. The problem is, discs such as this from Warner, with as little as 53 minutes' music, are barely acceptable. However if you're drawn towards Anu Tali's release, bearing this 'cheapskate' programming in mind, you are in safe enough hands. With her Nordic Symphony Orchestra, she tackles Tüür's orchestral pieces, Sibelius' melodrama and three Rachmaninov songs (with Latvia's State Choir), to the manner born.

The thorniest piece here is Tüür's brutal Zeitraum [listen -- track 1, 0:02-0:46]. The opening chord had me wondering fleetingly if I'd put on Brahms' 1st Piano Concerto by mistake. Following its chilling opening the work proceeds with a development rich in this composer's characteristic yet organically moulded dissimilarities -- forward driving strings, brittle wind figurations, and stabbing brass interjections.

Sibelius' almost mystic The Wood Nymph -- his setting of a 'romantic' text by Swedish poet Viktor Rydberg -- tells of a peasant lad compellingly lured by the wood nymph and subsequently overcome by the bewitching forest. Finnish narrator Lasse Pöysti matches the changing moods to perfection and this atmospheric reading is beautifully realized throughout.

Then Tüür's Action, Passion, Illusion drives forward with further compelling energy though his subdued quasi spiritual central movement, 'Passion' [listen -- track 4, 4:35-5:43], has a depth and inwardness reminiscent of a highly updated (Barber) Adagio for Strings. The three movements conclude with 'Illusion', consummate string writing indeed.

Finally, the opening of Rachmaninov's Three Russian Songs [listen -- track 6, 0:01-1:14] with altos, basses and orchestra -- 'Over the stream, the swift stream' brings echoes of Sibelius. All three texts capture peasant vignettes, underscored with the composer's quintessentially dark scoring. If only Warner had matched the generosity of BIS or Naxos -- bar for bar.

Copyright © 20 August 2005 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


Action Passion Illusion - Anu Tali

2564 61992-2 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 53'16" 2005 Warner Classics

Lasse Pöysti, narrator (Wood Nymph); Tanel Joamets, piano (Wood Nymph); State Choir Latvija (Russian Songs); Nordic Symphony Orchestra; Lev Klychkov, concertmaster; Anu Tali, conductor

Erkki-Sven Tüür (born 1959): Zeitraum for orchestra (1992); Jean Sibelius (1865-1957): The Wood Nymph Op 15 (1894) - melodrama for narrator, two horns, piano and strings; Erkki-Sven Tüür: Action - Passion - Illusion (Show) for string orchestra (1993); Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943): Three Russian Songs Op 41 (1926) for chorus and orchestra (Over the stream, the swift stream; Ah, Vanka, you are so dashing; My cheeks, so white, so rosy)





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