"...one of the most physically involving contemporary composers" – Andrew McGregor, BBC
Erkki-Sven Tüür, who was born in Estonia in 1959, is among the most original and significant composers of his generation. Having studied percussion and flute, he developed his skills in composition at the Tallinn Conservatoire (1980–4) and subsequently pursued an interest in electronic music in Karlsruhe. In 1979, Tüür founded the progressive rock band, In Spe, in which he was active as composer, instrumentalist, and vocalist. By the late 1980s Tüür had embarked wholeheartedly on his path as a composer; his musical development has been charted in a series of ECM releases which began with "Crystallisatio" (1996).
Tüür's early works explore a variety of techniques polystylistically, among them Gregorian chant and minimalism, linear polyphony and microtonality, twelve-tone music and sound-field technique. A transition in his musical language can be heard in his Symphony No. 4 (Magma) and Ardor, and in Oxymoron Tüür first employed what he calls his "vectorial writing method", a means of developing pieces from "a source code – a gene which, as it mutates and grows, connects the dots in the fabric of the whole composition".
Tüür's 21st-century music eschews "unnecessary eclecticism" in favour of organic coherence. Barry Witherden, writing in BBC Music Magazine captured something of the essence of Tüür's recent music in describing the 2014 recording of his Piano Concerto and Seventh Symphony as "dense, complex, mysterious, passionate, spellbinding, sometimes strange and always original". Of his art Tüür has said: "One of my goals is to reach the creative energy of the listener. Music as an abstract form of art is able to create different visions for each of us, for each and every individual being, as we are all unique."
Lost Prayers is the first of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür's New Series recordings to be devoted entirely to his chamber music. Scaled-back instrumental forces, however, are no indicator of reduced expressive power, and the volatility of Tüür's concept emerges forcefully from the first seconds of Fata Morgana which is, with Lichttürme, one of two pieces for violin, violoncello and piano. These pieces are performed by the Estonian trio of Harry Traksmann, Leho Karin and Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann, all of whom have played Tüür's music extensively and made appearances on earlier ECM discs, including Crystallisatio and Oxymoron. The German-based Signum Quartett plays Tüür's Second String Quartet, Lost Prayers, and Signum violinist Florian Donderer also performs Synergie together with cellist Tanya Tetzlaff. Collectively the musicians underline Erkki-Sven Tüür's view that "one can build up a really rich and wide palette of sounds with only three or four instruments. You don't necessarily need a full orchestra to operate with a powerful soundscape." The album was recorded in April 2019, in Bremen's acoustically-responsive Sendesaal, a room with long-established associations with ECM (reaching back to Jarrett's Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne of 1973).