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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Jan Jarvlepp, High Voltage, Chamber Music


There is no one way to compose these days, it goes without saying. That is a healthy thing to my mind. So as I listen to the chamber music offering by Jan Jarvlepp entitled High Voltage (Navona NV 6366), I am happily reminded that one can encounter the unexpected even among the expected "deviations" from orthodoxy.

The program covers four Jarvlepp chamber works, namely the Quintet 2003, a Woodwind Quintet, a Bassoon Quartet and his String Quartet No. 1. What stands out in this music as it first strikes me is the musical-stylistic syntax. It steadfastly goes beyond either the Romantic or the High Modern possibilities to explore possibilities inspired by Folk and general vernacular influences. Listen to the "Fancy Fiddling" movements of the Quintet 2003, and  too the alternately rollicking versus the more contemplative sections of the Woodwind Quintet with diatonic and quasi-pentatonic earthy rocking Folksy countenances. As can be the case throughout, the middle movement "Solitude" may bring to mind a bit of Bartok and Janacek, only distinctively Jarvleppian, which grounds itself on the combined Finnish-Estonian parental roots with a Canadian life locality. The musical result is a unique self-created amalgam that transcends the obvious to go into new territory.

The Bassoon Quintet engages nicely with an inventive atmospheric and in the final "Jig" movement a sturdy insistence which has almost a Rock solidity and irresistible force of sound.

The final String Quartet No. 1 is perhaps the more ambitious of the four but all the same characteristically personal as is the music as a whole. The opening movement is nicely heavy in a block of rocking insistence yet brio in a wider way, too. The middle slow movement is introspective and ravishing in a somber kind of way.

The performers are world class. Kudos to the Sirius Quartet, the Arcadian Winds, and the bassoonists on the Bassoon Quartet. Jarvlepp is an original. Hear this one out by all means.

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