Konverentsi „Dekadents eesti kultuuris: tõlge ja tõlgendus“ esimese päeva, 4. mai 2023 õhtul kõlas Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia saalis dekadentlik ja modernistlik saksofonimuusika: Claude Debussy, Jean Sibeliuse, Paul Hindemithi ja Eduard Tubina loomingut esitasid Joonatan Rautiola ja Uku Gross, klaveril Johan Randvere.


Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Prelüüd fauni pärastlõunale (1894)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): Sonaat
– paus –
Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Syrinx (1913)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): Konzertstück kahele altsaksofonile (1933)
Eduard Tubin (1905-1982): Sonaat altsaksofonile ja klaverile (1951)
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957): Luonnotar (1913)

It is often said that the era of modern music began with a single work in 1894: Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune for orchestra. Based on Mallarmé’s poem, Debussy considered the Prélude to be evocative “of the successive scenes in which the longings and desires of the faun pass in the heat of the afternoon”. Debussy stretched the traditional system of keys and tonalities to their limits. The Prélude is one of the most popular pieces of music of all time and inspired many composers.

Claude Debussy was one of the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is regarded as the founder of musical impressionism. Reacting against the dominant influence of Germanic music with its logical rigours of form and development, he sought a new music of colour, sensation, fleeting mood and relaxed form that would be distinctively French, as well as distinctively his own. He developed a highly original system of harmony and musical structure and his later music was perceived as sharing certain characteristics with the Impressionist painters, Monet, especially.

This sonata is the first of three that Paul Hindemith wrote for viola and piano. Influences of earlier composers such as Brahms and Reger are evident in the piece. Debussy’s influence is also present.
Elements of Debussy’s solo string sonatas and quartet are found in the sonata, especially the opening movement. The first movement serves as a prelude to the last two movements; all three are played without interruption. The second movement is labeled as a theme and variations; the simple folk-like theme, full of melancholy (labeled “Quiet and simple, like a folk song” in the score), is stated at the outset and four variations follow. The third movement is in sonata form but is linked to the second movement in that more variations of the second movement’s theme are stated during the third movement.

Debussy’s Syrinx is based on the mythological story of Pan, a Greek satyr known for falling in love with the nymph Syrinx and credited with the invention of a musical instrument called pan flute, panpipes or syrinx, in memory of the homonymous nymph who lost her life as she was trying to run away from Pan’s unwanted courtship.

According to the myth, Syrinx was a forest nymph while Pan, a lusty creature half man and half goat, was a satyr connected to the realm of wild nature and sexuality. One day, Pan saw the nymph and began to court her insistently.

Syrinx, who did not want to have anything to do with him, decided to escape the sexual attentions of the satyr and asked her father, the god of rivers Ladon, for help.

Ladon, hoping to save the daughter from the sexual harassment of Pan, transformed her into a bunch of water reeds just as the satyr was trying to embrace her.

When Pan realized that he was holding nothing but water reeds, he began to sigh and the airflow coming from his mouth blew through the reeds, generating a series of marvellous sounds.
The satyr immediately thought that the notes coming from the reeds were the voice of his beloved Syrinx and decided to cut them to make a musical instrument.

From that day on, every time Pan played the syrinx in the woods he felt like he was kissing the nymph, while the unfortunate Syrinx remained forever trapped into the body of the musical instrument, condemned to spend the rest of her life in company with the hated satyr and give vent to her mournful voice only in the form of notes.

Syrinx was written by Debussy to represent musically the emotional states, thoughts and sighs that should have accompanied the last moments of life of the Greek satyr Pan.

Alone in his grotto and surrounded by the shadows of death, Pan plays his flute, one last time, generating a mysterious, intimate and melancholic melody that has the capacity to lead us in the realm of uncertainty, where sadness, anxiety and restlessness are combined with sensuality, hope and delicacy.

This duet for two alto saxophones is a significant contribution to the duo repertoire from the unique Paul Hindemith. There is an ambiguity about Hindemith who adopted no one previously established style, not serialism nor atonal expressionism; not neoclassicism nor jazz flirtation. His harmonic language differs even from the French post-impressionists and seems to adopt a sort of formal, modal sound at once austere and interesting. This is evident throughout this duet which also contains much idiomatic writing for saxophone. The piece was written for Sigurd Rascher but not performed until some time after its composition. There are strong moods established even with only two voices and the melodic lines continually weave in and out of each other occasionally creating quite striking phasing effects.

Eduard Tubin’s music comes from a slightly later period, the 1930s, after he had studied with Zoltan Kodály, and his Saxophone Sonata clearly shows the older composer’s influence. It’s a very interesting piece in which both the saxophone and piano parts sound very normal and tonal, but since both are in slightly different keys they produce a bitonal effect when put together. And oddly enough, the latter part of the first movement includes some syncopations similar to a Charleston beat. The third movement, an “Allegro vivace,” is played in a fairly straight classical 4/4 with the piano part being comprised largely of ostinato chords.

The tonal freedom and style in Tubin’s work are modernist, but his form shaping is conservative. Uniting conservative and modernist trends in his work, he was more of a developer and unifier than a rule breaker.

Jean Sibelius’ tone poems stand alongside his symphonies as his greatest creations, vivid pictorial partners to the more abstractly imagined symphonies. Or it might be better to say that the tone poems and symphonies are interwoven, both chronologically and contextually; two sides of the same aesthetic coin. The tone poems span his entire creative career, from En Saga in 1892 to Tapiola in 1927, and are as rigorously and boldly formed as the symphonies, which in turn are as profoundly imbued with extra-musical inspirations of myth and nature as the poems, if seldom as explicitly.
In many ways, Luonnotar is as characteristic as any one piece could be of this very distinctive group. It is in a single, organically formed movement, evocatively scored with utter originality using only standard symphonic instruments, and based – like most but not all of the tone poems – on a scene from the Kalevala, the Finnish mythological epic.

In this case, the scenario is the allegorical creation myth from the first book of the Kalevala.

Luonnotar is the daughter of Air (the heavens), living lonely in space before coming down to earth and roaming the seas as the Mother of Waters. A great tempest suddenly arises, and Luonnotar calls to Ukko, the Father of the Heavens for help, which he sends in the form of a seabird. To make a place for it to nest among the waves, Luonnotar lifts her knee out of the water. Her leg becomes hot and convulses, rolling the eggs into the water, where they shatter. But from pieces of the eggshell come the sky, and the sun, moon, and stars.

Joonatan Rautiola has studied saxophone with Pekka Savijoki, Nicolas Prost, Christian Wirth and Claude Delangle. During his studies at the Paris Conservatory, Joonatan won prizes in several international competitions (Dinant, Düsseldorf, Oslo, Nova Gorica and Paris). He has appeared as a soloist with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mecklenburgische Staatskapelle Schwerin among others, and has given recitals in London, Dublin, St. Petersburg, Tokio and at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Joonatan teaches saxophone at the Sibelius Academy (Helsinki).

Uku Gross is 14 years old and is studying the saxophone at the VHK Music School (K. Citra Joonas), MUBA (Olavi Kasemaa), EMTA Youth Academy (Olavi Kasemaa) and attends Joonatan Rautiola’s (Sibelius Academy) saxophone class in Helsinki once a week.
Uku has received prizes in many saxophone, oboe and recorder competitions. The last and most important of them was the 1-st prize at the Andorra SaxFest competition. He has taken part in the masterclass of Claude Delangle, professor of the saxophone class at the Paris Conservatory.

Johan Randvere is an exceptional and unique representative of the younger generation of Estonian pianists. He has performed in prestigious concert halls, halls such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Vancouver’s Chan Center, Milan’s Puccini Hall, etc. and has won prizes at several piano competitions. As a pianist, he has performed together with several orchestras such as the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra. Randvere has been awarded the Cultural Endowment’s annual award “Live and Shine” (2017) and the scholarship of the Estonian Association of Professional.