KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Piano Sonata, 19 Preludes, 3 Small Piano Pieces, 2 Easy Piano Pieces for Children, Sonatina, Solo II.
Catalogue Number: 03Q070
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Aho's output for solo piano is not large this disc contains it all, to date - but it makes a most attractive program, while offering a fascinating glimpse of the composer's development from his earliest years, and his relationship with the instrument. The Preludes are very early - 1960s all - and, while not characteristic of the mature composer, they are appealing and accomplished little pieces in their own right. A substantial handful are clearly inspired by Bach - amusingly, the Bach-derived ones sound like little excerpts from virtuosic piano transcriptions of Bach, suggesting that teenage composer had been impressed by Bach elaborations by Busoni and others. Schumann seems to have been a major influence, and Chopin, Brahms and Beethoven are significant presences as well. The unusually chromatic 17th Prelude is something of an odd man out; darker and more harmonically ambiguous than the rest, it provides a suggestion of things to come. The three Pieces, only a few years later, are far more harmonically pungent and individual in style. Almost a decade elapsed before the 1980 Sonata, which is a substantial three-movement work, clearly by the mature composer. The composer set out to explore virtuosic piano technique in this piece, which unfolds almost like a series of etudes, making considerable technical demands on the performer. This and a general similarity of idiom link it to Solo II, which actually was a test piece; like all the best such works, its musical character and content are significant, testing the executant's musicality as well as mécanique. The other pieces were written with young performers in mind, but while less technically ferocious and in a generally lighter mood are nonetheless effective concert pieces, especially the witty little Sonatina, with its shades of Prokofiev and Bartók. Sonja Fräki (piano).