Antti Auvinen (b. 1974) is an exciting name on the Finnish classical music scene. He studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory, with composition as his main subject. Rhythm, timbre, the potential of multimedia as well as unconventional combinations of instruments and ways of playing them are his particular interests. His bold style has won attention and acclaim both at home in Finland and abroad.
Rhythm is a focal feature of Auvinen’s works: a means of creating and releasing musical tensions. His music is marked by a dynamic charge, explosive energy and surprise. A number of his compositions include videos or sampler-enhanced sound worlds as a musical element. An example is Turbo Aria (2017), premiered by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, in which an unrestrained playfulness liberally combines the sounds of toys and computer games with old recordings of star sopranos.
Despite its modern approaches, the music of Auvinen slips with ease into the centuries-old classical-music continuum, and the emotional charges generated by music occupy an important role. Art, he says, affects people deepest down, in the realm of emotion.
The works of Auvinen are keenly in keeping with the times. The contemporary composer can, according to him, express views on the world around him in his music. The work that marked Auvinen’s breakthrough was Junker Twist for orchestra premiered by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2015. The theme was concern about extreme, right-wing, populist phenomena. Orchestral works by him include Himmel Punk (2016), commissioned by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Digital Madrigal (2018) for video and orchestra commissioned by the Tapiola Sinfonietta, in which he combines orchestral timbres with manipulated films and video installations. He has also composed other large-scale works such as Aalto (2003-04), Breathe for piano and strings (2005), Februa for clarinet and orchestra (2006) and 12 Fn Kies (2017) for moog and big band. His chamber opera Autuus (Bliss) won the Finnish Teosto Prize in 2016. Among Auvinen's recent works is Cantus fresco disco (2020) for orchestra and video, a co-commission from the Joensuu City Orchestra and the Jyväskylä Sinfonia. His solo works include e.g. Eliangelis (2005) for clarinet.
Ondine Records released a profile disc of works by Antti Auvinen in November 2020 including three orchestral works (Junker Twist, Himmel Punk and Turbo Aria) performed by Hannu Lintu and the Finnish RSO. The CD has been met with great enthusiasm. According to the review by the Finnish Broadcasting Company: “The almost pitch-less and harmony-less music strikes straight to the subconscious, with its turbocharged rhythms and drifts of thick, muted timbres. The music draws, unasked, emotional energy from the listener, but in return provides catharsis.”
You can watch here some video material used in Auvinen's work Digital Madrigal. Below a video excerpt of Auvinen's chamber opera Autuus (Bliss).