Outi Tarkiainen once spoke of wandering the streets of London after having seen Alban Berg’s Lulu, and beginning to come to terms with her calling as a composer. It is easy to hear Berg’s influence in the music here, from the rampant lyricism that closes ‘Obsession’ from her Baudelaire Songs to the compelling strained tonality of her Trois Poèmes for string quartet.
But it might be a general sense of rooted longing more than anything technical that unites both composers. In Trois Poèmes, that principle delivers music of fascinating impulse and variegation, but it’s noticeable in the solo works too. The clarinet of Sans Paroles tries to break free of its own addiction to certain motifs, but as so often in this composer’s music, the place of refuge – the tonal centre – is never actually given voice. Does it even exist?
Tarkiainen’s own migration between the cities that excite her and the Lapland that is her muse reflects the openness of that question. Into The Woodland Silence tells of a woman coming to know herself and her power; soprano Tuuli Lindeberg plots the piece’s journey with railing but contained drama as the clarinet, cello and piano tussle psychologically around her, the foliage of conviction and doubt.
Tarkiainen has long since learned the lessons of her chosen poets: to be true to oneself. That results in outstanding music of meticulous clarity and frequent emotional strain. It needs heartfelt and considered performances, and gets them here.
TARKIAINEN: Beyond Poems
Kamus String Quartet; Lauri Sallinen; Maria Puusaari; Tuuli Lindeberg; Emil Holmström; Markus Hohti; Veli Kujala
Alba ABCD 415