KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, Chamber Symphony No. 3 for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 03N013
Description: The First develops from an almost disconcertingly Shostakovich-like opening into highly virtuosic multi-layered textures in contrasting sections. Each successive fast-slow pairing is more harmonically ambiguous than its predecessor, and more rhythmically intricate; the material remains tonal and in the idiom of the opening, but builds intriguing complex textures that culminate in a 20-part toccata before dissolving in an eerie, glacial coda. The Second begins with tense, fateful motifs and gestures which seem frustrated in their attempt to form a coherent argument. These are replaced by ascending melodic gestures over a deep pedal, which gather momentum and texture and lead into the second movement, initially melodic and melancholy. The music becomes agitated, with the intrusion of 'Bartók pizzicati', and a rustling prestissimo ensues, abruptly interrupted by rich tonal chords which usher in a new section which evaporates into a radiant, somber coda. The first movement of the Third explores melodic heterophony in restless, linear textures. The saxophone introduces the second movement, with the character of lonely, wild nature music, somewhat Sibelian. Glacial clusters lead into the third movement; the soloist enters with a somber melody, which develops along neo-romantic, tonal lines until interrupted by two athletic saxophone cadenzas. The finale attempts to develop into a conventional allegro, but instead, winds down into an oddly inflected melodic soliloquy, with micro-intervals, during which the soloist withdraws - literally, leaving the stage - whereupon a quiet orchestral coda quickly concludes the work. John-Edward Kelly (sax), Tapiola Sinfonietta; Stefan Asbury, Jean-Jacques Kantorow (No. 3). SACD hybrid.