Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Constructive cross-fertilization

(Translated from a review on 19 April in Hufvudstadsbladet,  the leading Swedish language paper in Finland).

Very few composers have succeeded in integrating Western art music with music from a different musical culture in as deep a way as Eero Hämeenniemi works with South-Indian Carnatic music as well as western art music, and while he earlier kept the two worlds more or less apart in his compositions, he has in recent years melded them together in a way that is both natural and constructive.

 The recently premiered Yaadum ooray (Everywhere a home) is the third composition Hämeenniemi has written for the singer Bombay Jayashri.

It moves from the orchestral eruptions of the first movement via the vocal meditations of the second movement – which are based on the 2300-year-old poem by Kaniyan Puungkundran - to the final ecstasy, where dance is added to the other elements of the work.

Unlike his earlier work “Red Earth and Rain” and “Sab Kahan?” Hämeenniemi did not include Indian percussion in his orchestra, butcreated the kinetic energy from traditional Western instruments. And what a huge amount of positive energy was released here! The quietly spun melodies of the second movement create the impression that the music carries one forward, until the final tillana explodes in a fireworks of colors, rhythms and sounds.

This is universal, timeless, deeply felt and experienced music that touches the listener in a deep and spontaneous way. Hämeenniemi’s idea of letting the two cultures cross-fertilize each another has given his music, not only a valuable added dimension, but also a whole new emotional and philosophical importance.

Jayashri’s singing was absolutely magical and Priyadarshini Govind’s Bharatanatyam gave the whole piece a visual golden lining.

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