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Jukka TIENSUU (b. 1948)
Nemo for ensemble, sampler and live electronics (1997) [21:44]
Puro for clarinet and orchestra (1989) [17:47]
Spiriti for accordion and orchestra (2005) [28:38]
Kari Kriikku (clarinet); Mikko Luoma (accordion); Avanti!/Susanna Maikki
rec. no details given. DDD. SACD Hybrid
ALBA ABCD258 [68:35]
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jukka TIENSUU (b. 1948)
Alma III - Soma - for symphony orchestra and sampler (1998) [8:30]
Mind - Concerto for piano and orchestra (2000) [33:59]
Mood - stereophonic music for small orchestra (1999) [9:05]
Alma II - Lumo - for symphony orchestra and sampler (1996)[13:45]
Juhani Lagerspetz (piano); Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra/Susanna Maikki
rec. no details given. DDD. SACD Hybrid
ALBA ABCD224 [65:19] 

Experience Classicsonline


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. 

Nemo flies along in constantly liberated, teeming motion like a feral kaleidoscope. Tiensuu blends in the electronics in a single phantasmal mural. Puro leaves 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 audience. 

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. Juhani Lagerspetz 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 ecstasy. 

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.

Rob Barnett


 


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