Friday 27.11.2020 19.00 Guest concert
Friday 27.11.2020 19.00 Cancelled TAMMISAARI CHURCH, ISO KIRKKOKATU 18, 10600 TAMMISAARI

Tapiola Sinfonietta visits Tammisaari with a mythic and manic programme. Tõnu Kõrvits evokes the mythical Thule before our eyes, and Jonathan Roozeman gives a soulful performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s ceaselessly pulsating Mania. Conducted by Risto Joost, the programme culminates in Francis Poulenc’s dancing Sinfonietta.

Risto Joost, conductor
Jonathan Roozeman, cello

Tõnu Kõrvits: Elegies of Thule
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Mania for solo cello and ensemble
Francis Poulenc: Sinfonietta

We kindly ask you to check up-to-date information: Special arrangements in Autumn 2020
The program is subject to change.

In cooperation with Tammisaari Swedish parish.



Tõnu Kõrvits

Elegies of Thule

Tõnu Kõrvits has been described as “a rising star in Estonian contemporary music”, and recently his works have been attracting increasing international attention. His music is characterised by rich sonorities, captivating moods and the seamless blend of a variety of influences from minimalism to Romanticism and from folk music to Expressionism. The mythical/poetic titles of his works reflect their sources of inspiration, as with The Detached Bridge; For You, the Messenger of Night; To My Spiritual Brother; River of Gratitude; and Melancholy of Flowers. Kõrvits’s extensive output includes operas, orchestral works, numerous works for soloist and orchestra, chamber music and solo works and a great deal of vocal music.
During the first decade of the 2000s, Kõrvits wrote a dozen works that form a loosely conceived series: their underlying unifying factor is the myth that emerged in Antiquity of a land in the far north named Thule. These works range from solo works and chamber music to orchestral works. The motivation for this project was that one of the locations suggested to have inspired the myth of Thule is the island of Saarenmaa in modern Estonia. Accordingly, Estonian folk music plays an important role in most of the works in this series.
Elegies of Thule (2007) is shaped as a three-movement suite evoking moods both intensely dark and brilliantly radiant. The opening movement, ‘Night is Darkening’, does what the title says in a web of rich textures and melodic lines. The middle movement, ‘Bells’, features pizzicato passages framing a broad legato central section, drawing on a folk tune named Kellä [Bells] of the Setos, a tiny minority in south-eastern Estonia known for its runo singing tradition. The work concludes with ‘I Look up to the Hills’, where minimalist field textures frame an ancient sacred tune originally from Saarenmaa.

Esa-Pekka Salonen


At one point it was looking like Salonen the Conductor was about to overwhelm Salonen the Composer, but Esa-Pekka Salonen continued to write music regardless of his busy conducting career and eventually was able to find a productive balance between these two sides of his musician persona. Although on the face of it these two pursuits are in competition for his time, on a deeper level they support and feed each other. Salonen’s compositions have always showed a deep respect for musicianship and a trust in the skills of musicians and their willingness to embrace new challenges.
According to Salonen, the majority of his instrumental music challenges its performers in one way or another, but the input of performers is a particularly important element in Mania (2000), a sort of concerto for cello and large ensemble. Here, Salonen stressed his interest in virtuoso skill: “There is a strange beauty in the notion of a performer doing extremely difficult things in order to bring enjoyment to people. The best virtuoso is a musician who is willing to go to places where no one has gone before – whether a virtuoso of the mind or of the fingers.”
Salonen says that the key feature of Mania is a “never-ending motion”. The work begins with no preamble, plunging straight into the action as the cello traces twisted melodic lines against a scintillating background. The cello part is at times emphatically a soloist part and at other times blends into the ensemble – and does everything in between. The sound world shifts and changes continuously, from translucently radiant to full and sonorous. Indeed, constant change is a defining characteristic of the work as a whole, with transitions both imperceptible and abrupt. Towards the end, there is a moment of relative stability that provides the most intense moments, and ultimately the movement almost stops, only to explode into the fastest section of all, a breathlessly galloping final stretta.

Francis Poulenc


French composer Francis Poulenc outlined his composer persona by saying that he was part street urchin, part Catholic mystic. The two extremes could comfortably coexist even within the bounds of a single work, but on the whole his output may be considered to have migrated from the former to the latter. In his youth in the 1920s, Poulenc made a name for himself as a member of Les Six, a group of composers who favoured Neo-Classicism, wit and incisive non-sentimentality; his later output, by contrast, was dominated by more serious tones. A particular turning point in this development came with the violent death of a close composer friend in a car accident in 1936 and Poulenc’s visit to the pilgrimage site of Rocamadour immediately thereafter. Poulenc’s output consists of piano and chamber music, solo songs, sacred vocal works and operas; he only wrote a handful of orchestral works.
In 1947, Poulenc sketched out a string quartet but was stuck. He complained that all the motifs that he came up with ended up sounding like wind instruments. Finally, at the suggestion of composer friend and former fellow Les Six member George Auric, he imported the material into a Sinfonietta that had been commissioned by the BBC. This was completed in the same year and premiered in London in October 1948.
The four-movement Sinfonietta is the only one of Poulenc’s works that could be described as symphonic. Although written after the shift in his outlook, it looks back at the Neo-Classicism of the Les Six period, albeit through the lens of a more mature composer ethos, as it were. The opening movement combines a fresh, lively approach with broad, serious melodic material. The second movement is a breezy and humorous scherzo with a slower middle section. The slow movement has a pastoral lyricism that deepens into Romantic warmth. The finale begins at a brisk pace, the ‘street urchin’ making his presence felt, but there is a generous helping of flowing melody in it as well.

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