ROBERT JÜRJENDAL AND LIIS VIIRA: NUANCED MELODIES BETWEEN COMPOSITION AND VISUAL STATES

09. December 2014
Giulia Oro

“Tasasele Maale” was a jazz concert performed by the Estonian guitarist Robert Jürjendal and  harper Liis Viira on the 3rd of December 2014 at Niguliste Church in Tallinn Old Town.

 

The concert, inspired by the nuanced Estonian nature, was a journey through the landscapes and the seasons of this country, made even more mystical by the holy place where it took place. All the tracks, performed without any description or presentation, created a deep path into the human being, where every single echo reminded of a different feeling. Since the overture, the audience could experience this forsaking of the soul thanks to the ability of the musicians to create visual states with sounds. They were able to make together a mix of different tunes which seemed like the walls of the church were whispering tender voices. The instruments didn’t play on their own, but every single echo was following the others in order to create the same harmony of the sounds of the nature.  

 

I think that between the fourth and fifth track there was a moment of the deepest pathos, where the audience could feel something similar to an awakening or a rebirth of the soul in a sense. Liis was plucking the strings of the harp so gently that it seemed to be the sound of nightingales during spring. Then, thanks to the use of several pedals, Robert accompanied the melody of the harp with a rhythmic base made with different effects, until they created together a crescendo. The gradual intensity of the sounds was also realized by the ability of Liis to combine different instruments, for example Crotali, the traditional Indian bells she often used. The whole place was filled up with emotions and there was something similar to one of the bucolic scenes in Greek mythology, where Pan is playing his flute, surrounded by the nature. 

However, the real strenght of the musicians was to carry the audience in a variety of the shadows of the seasons, creating different moods. This certainly comes from both of their deep experience. Liis is a composer and improviser who, working also with artists like painters, developed a way of characterized composing by figurative thinking. Robert trained as a classical guitarist, but later studied Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft and learned to play loop music, so he could combine his classical background with experimentations. The tracks following the “Spring Chapter”, in fact, were a mix of that, with gloomy and melancholic tunes that reminded of autumnal and wintry landscapes. This mood was mostly emphasized by the ability of the guitarist to use the plectrum in an ergonomic way (one of the techniques taught in Guitar Craft’s classes). The chords of the guitar and the following whispers of the harp seemed to belong at the same time from different places: sometimes you could feel them from the abyss, sometimes from a far foggy horizon. And finally, again, a feeling of peace with another change of resonances. Towards the closing of the concert, in fact, the audience was carried in the middle of the Northern meadows, where, raised from the darkness, the guitar and the harp were walking together like two lovers spreading their lightness.

 

It was quite touching feeling in one hour all the different feelings a human can feel inside him. To sum up, I think music can often tell more than words and speeches. The vibes of the instruments can pleasantly evoke the sounds of the nature, especially when the musicians are able to give them a soul. Music is a way to develop a relationship not only with the instrument, but also with those who are playing and listening. I think Robert and Liis could do it very deeply with their gentle touch.

 

Robert Jürjendal and Liis Viira

December 3rd 2014 at Niguliste Church, Tallinn

 

Robert Jürjendal: guitar

Liis Viira: harp