by Juhani Nuorvala

Jousikvartetto nro 1,

String Quartet No. 1, (String Quartet No. 1)

Empty sheet

Juhani Nuorvala


Fennica Gehrman


Jousikvartetossani Dancescapes on kolme osaa. Pääosasa matkataan läpi "tanssitilojen". Sitä reunustavat arvoituksellinen johdanto ja levollinen epilogi. Dancescapesin kantaesitti hollantilainen Dufy-kvartetti Milanossa syksyllä 1992 Nuove Sincronie -konserttisarjassa.

© Juhani Nuorvala, 1993

Already early on his career Nuorvala stood apart from the rest of his colleagues for his special interest in American minimalism. He also commented on this phenomenon, relatively unknown as it was in Finland at that time, in radio programmes and articles. Nuorvala's own style has never been typically minimalistic. The influences upon which he has drawn have been tempered by other preoccupations, the French 'spectral' school style of writng in particular. The building of a synthesis between these ideas continue to be one of Nuorvala's aims even in his recent works.

The String Quartet No. 1, which goes under the name Dancescapes was completed in 1992. It professes to be a three-movement work, but the introduction, main movement and epilogue are played without a break and leave the impression of a one-movement form. The quartet is similar in structural conception to schemes found in Lutoslawski, not least because of the introduction, which casts around for its direction from a range of alternatives. The principal motivic role is taken by a tiny cell, dance-like in character, which is repeated persistently. It sways on exuberantly and is amplified into rhythmic figures which are constantly in flux. This motive represents the 'minimalistic' pole of Nuorvala's palette of materials. At the other extreme are ethereal, discretely microintervallic harmonies which one might regard as a manifestation of 'spectral music'. Significantly, this state of affairs is not permanent. In the main movement of the work Nuorvala weaves a texture surprisingly akin to traditional counterpointal string quartet writing. This is surely a new dimension in his music and one which opens fresh and interesting vistas for the future.

The dominaiting trait of Nuorvala's quartet is without doubt its incredibly rich and subtle use of rhythm - an aspect which the work's sub-title leads us to expect. At the one extreme it takes the form of polyrhythmic behaviour verging at times on the highly complex, and at the other, boogie-woogie figures. This brings us to the most important merit of the piece: although the work's stylistic anchoring points are far apart and on first hearing place it in the realm of the pluralistic aesthetic, a more detailed listening reveals the work to be a tightly integrated piece of writing. Its cleverly conceived dramaturgical arch extends from the quietly brooding twilight of its beginnings, through many playfully dance-like explorations and strong dramatic climaxes towards a smooth, melodious conclusion. On the whole, Nuorvala's Dancescapes, in all its variety and robustness, is an excellent example of how maximal effect can be extracted from a few relatively simple materials.

© Jouni Kaipainen, 1994


2vln, vla, vlc


Chamber Works


Dufy Quartet, Milan, 1 November 1992

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