ANTTI AUVINEN (b.1974): Junker Twist, Himmel Punk, Turbo Aria.
Catalogue Number: 01X062
Reference: ODE 1326-2
Description: Auvinen settled on a career as a composer relatively late, around the age of thirty, after study at two contrasting institutions in the 1990s, one conservative, the other highly experimental. He became interested in the rhythmic aspect of music and in investigating extended timbres, rather than pitch and harmony structures per se, and these preoccupations dominate these three energetic, confrontational works written in consecutive years beginning in 2015, which marked his breakthrough as composer. All take some degree of impetus from one or another form of social commentary, and the titles give an idea of the "angry young (-ish; he was 40) man" mentality behind the music’s aggressive expression. Junker Twist is a layered title, a play on the historically evolving term for upstart minor nobility, here reimagined as a flag-wagging neo-nationalist with a twisted world view, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". The music is fast, propulsive and hyperactive, resembling futurist machine music of the early 20th century, though with some darkly comic screams and groans, and a couple of episodes in which the character audibly runs out of steam, subsiding into wheezy gasping through the brass instruments before taking off on his furious tirade again, thrown in for satirical effect. There is a definite stylistic evolution evident in the following work, Himmel Punk, the pounding pulsations now confidently polyrhythmic, the vocalizations more surreal and theatrical. Intolerance is the social evil condemned here, the raw punk energy and scornful catcalls of the opening section frantically trying to suppress the gentle, "heavenly" tintinnabulation of glittering harp and percussion that tries to assert itself. Eventually this consonant, blissful material rises above the turmoil to end the work in contemplative tranquility. Turbo Aria continues the trend of anarchic energy in the previous works, now with the addition of electronics in the form of radically transformed samples from 78rpm records of Finnish sopranos from a century ago, complete with machine and surface noise, played from a keyboard. These strange sounds, ranging from pitch-altered music to noise textures, decorate the powerfully surging and crashing waves of orchestral texture - the underlying "program" here is the plight of refugees attempting to cross the ocean - like demented cries, sometimes resembling echoing animal noises under some nightmarish forest canopy, or malfunctioning machines. Eventually, as in Himmel Punk, a beautiful, tranquil sonic oasis is attained, formed of looped excerpts from one particular aria, dynamically pitch-shifted into a new, hypnotically haunting melody. A brief, violent orchestral coda completes the work, capped off by the electronic voices ascending into insectoid rustling beyond the range of hearing. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hannu Lintu.