21st Century Finnish Organ Music

VELI KUJALA (b.1976): Cyclone, MAIJA HYNNINEN (b.1977): 3 Mondes for Organ and Electronics, MINNA LEINONEN (b.1977): Par Préférence, OLLI VIRAPERKO (b.1973): Dawkins, ANTTI AUVINEN (b.1974): Singel Excelsis.

Catalogue Number: 02V073

Label: Alba

Reference: ABCD 440

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: A fascinating, immensely varied and surprisingly approachable (depending to some extent on what you were expecting) recital of works by composers born in the 1970s. Exploration of the almost limitless sonic potential of the organ is a central preoccupation, but a wide range of harmonic, rhythmic and textural means are also used to a wide variety of ends. We offered a Kujala (composer and organist) disc three years ago (09S082) and as there, his piece is based in tonality, an exciting, powerful toccata which follows the shape of a cyclone - the calm before the storm, the rushing wind, a French toccata with Messiaenic dissonances, the calm eye of the storm, and the sequence of events in reverse. Hynninen's pieces develop the illusions of perpetual motion in art - the ever-ascending Shepard scale and the etchings of M.C. Escher. The first is a perpetual motion machine, its whirling gears amplified and multiplied by the electronics. The second is a study in sonority and timbre, in slowly modulating currents of fluid organ sound. Finally the work as a whole arrives at its point, and circles around it in spirals generated by Shepard scales from the electronics accompanied by the organ in little post-minimalist gestures, in a tribute to the compositional experiments of Jean-Claude Risset. Leinonen's Par préferénce is a study in "gradually changing sonorities and textures: smooth different tuned unisons, large masses and dense dissonant chords, repetition-based toccata material and acoustical phenomena" - and all these textures and timbres are present in full, but so are ingenious transitions between them, which give what otherwise might be merely a catalogue a musical shape. Virtaperko's quirky and individualistic approach to composition (11T065) is highlighted in Dawkins, named for Richard of that ilk, the evolutionary biologist. The piece's first movement abounds in proliferating and multiplying small phrases, like the endlessly self-replicating biological building blocks that shape our destiny. Towards the end of the slow, organically efflorescent second movement the organ blowers are turned off, leading to a microtonal fading-out - cellular death in music, perhaps - then they come back on to enable the imposing chords that introduce the finale, which consists of long, linear strands that overlap and intertwine over a constant drone. The Auvinen is the most ‘experimental' piece here in some respects; the composer's exploration of the rhythmic and attack characteristics of different combinations of stops and registers leads to some massive, impenetrable clusters of thrilling sonority, but also to more conventional high-velocity toccata-like material, which may suddenly become ensnared in muddy registers where fleet virtuosity has no place; then its transferred energy gives life to the clay, and a new awkwardly animated being roars into life. The sheer range of sonorities and the explosive energy of the work are, to say the least, as unusual as they are thrilling. Susanne Kujala (organ).

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