Magazine article Gramophone

Ahmas: Kaarmesormus (Snake Ring)

Magazine article Gramophone

Ahmas: Kaarmesormus (Snake Ring)

Article excerpt

Kaarmesormus (Snake Ring) Ulla Raiskio mez Zagros Ensemble / Petri Komulainen

Alba (M, 2) ABCD394 (96' * DDD * S)

You can appreciate why Harri Ahmas describes his 2008 work Kaarmesormus ('Snake Ring') as a 'chamber opera' but the title is far from ideal. Pinning down this piece for mezzo and ensemble isn't easy, but it sits somewhere between Schubert's Winterreise (in its setting of first-person poems that link to form a narrative), George Benjamin's Written on Skin (in the mystery of its 16th-century French setting) and Turnage's Twice Through the Heart (a woman dealt a cruel hand indulging in a series of confessional monologues). Turnage describes his work as a 'dramatic scena' and that seems a better term for this piece too.

Tittamari Marttinen's poems on the subject of a Burgundy woman forced to renounce her true love and marry a stranger also carry something of Written on Skin's eroticism, if not the tension that piece creates between characters, as here the protagonist Beata Lyonnaise sings/ speaks alone while the ensemble recites her epilogue. Ahmas sets each of the poems as a single entity with its own gait and stylistic colouring. …

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