USKO MERILÄINEN (1930-2004): Summer Concerto (Summer Night’s Dream), ERKKI SALMENHAARA (1941-2002): Canzonetta, PĒTERIS VASKS (b.1946): Epifania, JUKKA TIENSUU (b.1948): Sulci, HELENA TULVE (b.1972): L’ombre derrière toi.

Catalogue Number: 07S063

Label: Alba

Reference: ABCD 355

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: The Tiensuu is bracingly energetic, with an irresistible forward momentum. Harmonically and timbrally it is much harder to categorise; it can sound tonal and post-minimalistic one minute, atonal and inflected by microtones and pitch bending the next. The slower middle section sounds like a stylized rendition of some exotic ethnic string instrument, surrounded by a cluster aura; the dancing outer sections could be rustic folk dances seen through a minimalist prism. Salmenhaara's Canzonetta, like the Poema also offered this month, is a product of the tonal, melodic style he adopted in the 1960s after turning his back on the modernism that had hitherto occupied him. Like Poema it has a readily identifiable Romantic antecedent; Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, with which it shares a profoundly melancholy mood. Tulve's piece is quite different. Here, shifting planes of sound form a backdrop to the hard-edged sound of three viols spinning traceries which cast dense lines of shadow; the title of the work concerns shadows cast by staring at the sun, and the piece's timbral suggestion of overpowering brightness and impenetrable shadow is reminiscent of Saariaho at her most sonoristically evocative. Epifania is classic Vasks; pure in its tonal simplicity, consoling in mood, and with the inflections of Latvian folksong. Meriläinen's Summer Concerto is full of vitality and energy; although he denied that it was nature music, he nonetheless said that its restless, organic surface textures emanated from 'an environment where earth sprites and gnomes are allowed to be almost real'. In three linked movements, fast-slow-fast, the work has scant contact with conventional tonality yet manages to conjure an approachable and somehow benign world of the imagination; 'happy sounding music' as the composer described it. Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra; Juha Kangas.

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