Harry Traksmann violin
Leho Karin violoncello
Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann piano
Tanja Tetzlaff violoncello
Florian Donderer violin
Annette Walther violin
Xandi van Dijk viola
Thomas Schmitz violoncello
Recorded April 2019 at Sendesaal Bremen
Engineer: Christophe Franke
Cover photo: Thomas Wunsch
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher
Release date: November 13, 2020
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Since debuting on ECM’s New Series in 1996 with the inimitable Crystallisatio, the humanity of Erkki-Sven Tüür has revealed itself through score after score in search of a purer distillation of his uniquely “vectorial” approach to composition. With Lost Prayers, his first chamber-only program for the label, he may have found his clearest alloy yet in the grander scheme of elements that informs his far-reaching spirit. No stranger to meshing contradictory elements into coherent wholes without capitulating to monolithic dogma, striking a path between mathematical precision and organic flow, he taps into something familiar that allows us to bypass the pleasantries of getting-to-know-you conversation, going straight into dialogues of faith, reason, and love.
Violinist Harry Traksmann, cellist Leho Karin, and pianist Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann embrace Fata Morgana (2002) as a child in need of comfort. The opening violin arpeggios and piano chords over crunchy cello double stops work into a controlled frenzy, indicative of an inner turmoil such as only a fresher soul could lay bare. As molecules join and separate, time loses all shape. Refrains, each a return to self before disembodiment resumes, stand out for their subtlety. Leaping gestures are quickly sublimated by quicksand motifs, pulling the listener into subterranean spaces where notes cease to matter, giving way instead to textural authority. The ending tremors hint more at glory than physical compromise. And while something about this piece leaves me feeling homesick, the same musicians close with a sense of family in Lichttürme (2017), a veritable lighthouse in sound. The violin is the glassy lens through which its glow is magnified, the cello the tower housing it, and the piano a tickle of awareness in the sailor’s cerebral cortex.
Between those poles, violinist Florian Donderer and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff chart points of continuity between night and day in Synergie (2010) before the Signum Quartett’s sensitive rendition of the String Quartet No. 2 (2012), from which this album gets its name. Like a conversation between epochs, it shifts from empathetic and coherent to cross-wired and fragmentary, its answers only becoming clear when taken in the aggregate. At its loudest moments, the notecraft soars; at its quietest, it scuttles along the ground toward agitations of light.
Tüür’s music is never content with endings. It dwells not in our bodies but in the natural materials our bodies partake of, harvest, and transform. Even as the instruments dip themselves in a font of inspiration, the water’s surface has been sprinkled with the lycopodium of honest self-reflection, leaving them dry. This is Revelation as Genesis: the potter’s vessel of our century broken into pieces and refashioned in the image of revival.