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Tallinn Music Week 2018

Henning Bolte By

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Kira Skov is a Grenzgänger of a different capacity, with an odyssey (via Los Angeles and London) of her own. Her slightly grainy voice with a gentle silver edge can touch deeper dark sides of the soul, but she also has a gentle side of reconciling patient passion in her singing. Her songs and singing held already a strong hymnal quality.

Ready for reset

"Kommentaarium/Commentary" was an especially designed collection of work by highly active young Estonian composer Marianna Liik (1992), a scholar of renowned Estonian composers Helena Tulve and Margo Kõlar. It comprised vocal improvisations by Laura Põldvere -one of the most dazzling figures in Estonian music—in between the four plus one pieces commencing with "Concerto for Cello and Electronics"(2016) followed by "Miniature for the Harp" (2014), "Postludium" (2014) and "Irregular Pearl IV" for four percussionists. Especially the percussion piece with its attractive dynamics opened up a rich sound space and evoked moods that strongly spoke to listeners' imagination. It was strong enough to evoke curiosity, tension, amazement, relaxation, and surrender. The excellent lightning design (Kristjan Suits) and sound design (Katrin Kvade) emphasized and facilitated this to a high degree.

The concert was concluded by "Veereb, kuhu tahab/Rolling, wherever it wants to" for mixed choir (2016), a piece based on the comments listeners had posted on the Kommentaarium website after having listened to a recorded performance of the aforementioned four works. The idea is that audiences can familiarize with the music in advance and give individual comments. A choice of that comments is used for the shaping and reshaping of the concluding choral piece such that a live audience can hear it. The piece was performed by the 15-piece Chamber Choir Collegium Musicale under conductor Endrik Üksvärav that also participated in the choral meeting earlier that evening.

It is an interesting idea to co-opt the audience and offer it more possibilities to exteriorize its listening experiences. For the application here, however, it is unclear how far in advance of the performance to be attended the verbal feedback is needed. It is also not clear to what degree the performance can be affected by the comments. Is it confined to mirroring the verbatim version incorporated in the choral piece? Or is it possible that the sequence of the pieces, for instance, can be changed as a result? Would it also be possible to work with spoken comments in a call-response structure—possibly even in real time improvising as a live-remix? It is worthwhile to pursue this approach consequently to make the process of music making more tangible and open, creating a higher degree of identification of the listeners.

Kristjan Järvi Jukebox

Every edition's opening concert is a Kristjan Järvi thing, together with his New York Absolute Ensemble and an illustrious, colorful gathering of guests. This year Järvi joined forces with Luxemburg pianist Francesco Tristano, Estonian multifaceted composer, music producer, and DJ Sander Mölder, energetic (jazz) vocalist Kadri Voorand, young Estonian singer-songwriter Mick Pedaja, Estonian multi-facetted singer Elina Netchayeva and the Estonian Folk Orchestra (founded by Estonian accordion player Tuulikki Bartosik in 2011). It took place in the grandeur of the splendid building of the Russian Cultural Center of Tallinn, formerly the House of the officers of the Baltic fleet of the Soviet Union.

What was announced as "a journey into sounds, spaces, senses and a new realm of possibilities" with reference to club sounds of the past century became a hasty, showy, quite forced potpourri, or a Kristjan Järvi kind of jukebox. Stamping and loud monotone beats superseded and often buried other musical elements. Unfortunately a good idea did not take shape and the high potentials of the participating could not unfold satisfactorily.

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