An album with a history, a title with a double meaning. If you ask Kristian Järvi to tell you something about the background of “Nordic Escapes”, the conductor and composer will trace a long path through his own biography. “After all, for a long time I didn’t come around to writing my own music,” he says. The saga of a restless man: From his Nordic homeland, which was then still part of the Soviet Union, travelling to the opposite side of the globe. He mentions the founding of the Absolute Ensemble, a freestyle collective at the interface of classical, jazz and hip-hop. This was in New York in the early 1990s.
In the meantime Järvi has moved from the United States to the Estonian capital Tallinn. The place of his childhood is now his (old) new “home-base”, as Järvi calls it. “The title ‘Nordic Escapes’ has several meanings for me. On the one hand, it describes the mood, the atmosphere of the music. On the other hand, it is also my private escape, a return home. I step onto the street and can speak my own language. It is a basic attempt to get closer to the northern hemisphere”. In this context, he mentions friends and colleagues from Iceland via Denmark to Finland, with whom he works closely, for example for the long-term project he founded, Baltic Sea Philharmonic, which works under his leadership to place music in the context of the 21st century.
Supported by his long-time colleague Charles Coleman (Absolute Ensemble) and recorded by his “house band” Nordic Pulse Ensemble, Kristjan Järvi developed his “Nordic Escapes” through his dazzling variety.
The origin was the song “Nebula”. “It’s about my own limbo. A personal situation that I can better describe with music than through words. A helpless, enigmatic relationship, like a fog, driven by an internal rhythm as one knows from Johann Sebastian Bach,” says Järvi. The German electronics engineer Robot Koch contributed a remix of “Nebula”, while Järvi also contributed as a conductor on Koch’s current album “The Next Billion Years”.
“In my own music, I have reached the point where electronics are not an exotic effect but rather an elementary part of the acoustic map. Our time now is digital, so we have to deal with it artistically. Our heart is an electric pump, every cell produces energy. The track “Aurora” -he says, “leads the listener atmospherically out of this fog. It describes the decision to find a positive way out of a situation. My ‘let it be’ ” -he says, and has to laugh.
“Nordic Escapes” sounds like a warm, clear, transparent veil: A musical journey that brings out both the Northern Lights and the short, colourful summers. “Diatonic sequences” adds Järvi technically. “A fabric that glitters with vibration: Gold dust, maybe even the stars. An ethereal folk music that lives from its textures. Sometimes they are rough, sometimes silky. The picture of a mood, neither black nor white. “Nordic Escapes” says Kristjan Järvi, “sounds like Fifties Shades of Rain…”
KRISTJAN JÄRVI is a famous and well respect artist in the world of classic music, most known for his provocative programming, style and taste. With NORDIC ESCAPES, he takes the first step toward the release of his self-composed and produced concept album, even though it has become rare for conductors to also take on the role as composer. Järvi is a multi-genre artist, well known for collaborations from visual arts to film, working with well-respected modern classic artists such as Max Richter, initiator for the productions of TV series Babylon Berlin. He has collaborated with artists like Max Richter, Bastille, Bryce Dessner from The National, Hauschka, Pet Shop Boys – to name just a few. In the “traditional” classical context he is famous for being a great conductor, a bit crazy and polarizing, and non-conformist, free-thinker, pushing the boundaries. Fun but shows integrity to the arts.