I had not encountered anything by the Finnish composer Jukka
Tiensuu until I heard these two CDs.
I now have a much clearer aural image of the music. If he is a
romantic he is a virtuoso one happy to grasp any technique that
serves his expressive needs. These include dissonance, electronic
means, mosaic in frenzied motion, fantasy cut free from the usual
chain and leash.
along in constantly liberated, teeming motion like a feral kaleidoscope.
Tiensuu blends in the electronics in a single phantasmal mural.
the electronics to one side but places the clarinet as an elfin
wild creature moaning and groaning, seducing and rumbling. The
music slides and slaloms in a synthesis of Penderecki’s
Hiroshima Threnody, Maxwell Davies' St Thomas Wake,
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and
the Stravinsky Rite of Spring. Spiriti
which is in five separately-tracked movements
is just as 'dangerous' and impulsive. Its expressive
range is fantastically wide from lapidary and gratingly starry
sparkle to scorching birdsong, awesome railroad-blitzkrieg assaults
and buzzing shock tactics.
Tiensuu is an original voice and one for whom the return to
tonality has not really given him a key to connection with his
Alma III - Soma is a sultry essay. It is almost Debussian
with a rustle of feathers and dazzling avian discourse. It reminded
me of a work much in my thoughts at present David Matthews'
Music of Dawn and recently recorded by Chandos.
Mind - is a piano
concerto in four movements. It's the longest of the works on
these two discs. By now I was not expecting charging, adversarial,
heroic rhetoric. Just as well. Instead we are taken through
an enchanting and subtle journey across barely touched-in sound.
It is as if Tiensuu makes play – up-close
and amplified - with the dying resonance of gamelan. In Air
(II) little impulsive whip-lashes of action cut to and fro
across the field of aural ‘vision’. Water - Dream is
another of those quasi-Hovhaness studies in gleaming sonorities. Inevitably it sounds
Oriental and is made the more otherworldly by swaying and swooning
orchestral strings. It's a lavish and lapidary score full of
reflection and changeable pulse; unstable in feeling yet annotated
and thus clearly fixed. Finally in the Fire - Passion movement
Tiensuu delivers a strong and scorching
rhyhmic attack across those offbeat
hammer blows; he has learnt from Jon Leifs.
remains as impressive as when I first heard his work on an early
Finlandia CD. He administers a spray
of piano shrapnel with as much conviction as when he touches
in the subtlest of sonorities.
Like Alma III,
Mood is a short piece. It’s another
of Tiensuu's fanciful flights: jazzy, delicate, constantly in
motion never becalmed. It is affected a little by cross-currents
of Adams-like minimalism.
Alma II - Lumo
- is another of
those shimmering pieces in which silvery gleams cut through
the mellifluous chatter of bird voices and Debussian
Tiensuu feels free to experiment and that liberty is clearly
central to his creativity. Its purpose is, as he said in 1983,
to attain the shortest possible route to the highest spiritual
spheres. He refuses to provide programme notes and leaves the
music to speak for itself.