in Reviews

Antti Auvinen – the most of everything

by Kare Eskola

"Auvinen’s finest talent is in the chillingly clear musical images that emerge from the pressurised fury."

Antti Auvinen (b. 1974) is Finland’s most-discussed contemporary composer, and we could add a number of other superlatives to the description. His music has the most energy, the least pitches and the most extreme effects. This profile disc by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra demonstrates that Auvinen also boasts the most elegant take on programme music: his extra-musical inspirations are obvious, but the music is ambiguous and spacious.

Junker Twist focuses on the distorted anger of the political far right, Himmel Punk excoriates narrow-mindedness, and Turbo Aria looks out to the sea in which refugees are allowed to drown. These keys to interpretation are quickly lost, however, because the music simply overpowers the listener as Auvinen piles on some of the roughest sounds available from a symphony orchestra into a pulsating mass. Counterpoint and harmony are rarities, but meanings are intense, generated by the furious energy, the richness of rhythm and the shifting of dark colours.

Auvinen’s finest talent is in the chillingly clear musical images that emerge from the pressurised fury. Junker Twist suddenly rasps more terrifyingly than Darth Vader, Turbo Aria unexpectedly floats up a repeated minor triad, and Himmel Punk presents an image of heaven that is far too concrete for comfort. The relentless onslaught of sound energy and aural images begging for an explanation depletes the listener’s emotional energy, but it feels good because there is a catharsis at the end of it all.

Antti Auvinen: Junker Twist; Himmel Punk; Turbo Aria
Finnish RSO cond. Hannu Lintu
Ondine ODE 1326-2.

Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi