JUHO KANGAS (b.1973): Concerto for Cello and Strings, ERKKI SALMENHAARA (1941-2002): Poema, PEHR HENRIK NORDGREN (1944-2008): HATE-LOVE, Op. 71, AULIS SALLINEN (b.1935): Chamber Music VIII “Paavo Haavikko in memoriam”.

Catalogue Number: 07S079

Label: Alba

Reference: ABCD 372

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: Salmenhaara's Poema is a somber funeral march, explicitly based on Chopin's slow movement of the 2nd Sonata. The work may have been intended as a tribute to Shostakovich, who died the year it was written; it shares its prevailing shadowy key of E flat minor with Shostakovich's last quartet. Later in the piece, a gloomy folk-like melody is intoned over the funereal tread. Shostakovich is also evoked in Nordgren's pessimistic, dramatic cello concerto in all but name, HATE-LOVE. The two emotional states are clearly intertwined in this psychologically complex work, in which melancholy, flowing melody can turn abruptly to passionate outbursts of anger, or lovely tonal harmony can be distorted by dissonance or interrupted by strident discord. Many passages have a distinctly tonal feel, but this is constantly subject to disruption by unexpectedly atonal harmonic shifts. The three-movement concerto by Kangas (son of the conductor) pays tribute to the concerto tradition with a virtuosic solo part in the foreground throughout, a dramatic, tense first movement followed by a brief double scherzo and a tense, discursive finale, the whole in a contemporary idiom with a rather abrasive harmonic language that nonetheless stops well short of the avant garde. Sallinen's most recent piece in his 'Chamber Music' series, receiving only its second recording here, is a richly eloquent, impassioned elegy for the composer's sometime librettist Paavo Haavikko, autumnal and pained, yet retaining a sinewy resilience typical of the composer. Marko Ylönen (cello), Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra; Juha Kangas.

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