KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Double Concerto for Cor Anglais, Harp and Orchestra, Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra.

Catalogue Number: 12X014

Label: BIS

Reference: 2426

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $19.98

Description: Aho's inexhaustibly inventive series of concertos for every conceivable instrument - 36 to date - continues here with instrumental combinations, of which the first is likely unique. Both are half-hour works in four movements. The Double Concerto is unusual in other ways as well; the first movement is as long as the other three together, and the second is a reflective solo cadenza for the harp. The work begins in a desolate landscape, with chilly wind and ice effects and cluster textures. The soloists enter tentatively, sounding lonely and forlorn. Eventually the solo instruments achieve tonal stability and launch the music into a robust central section in Aho's familiar Shostakovich-derived vocabulary, with the inventive use of propulsive drums that came to the fore in the stunning percussion concerto Sieidi (09W056). Storm clouds gather, though, and a dissonant climax plunges the music back into the darkling world of the opening, which a furtively active little coda does nothing to dispel. The harp cadenza is very tonal,with a sense of self-contained narrative and much beautiful and original writing; the following fast movement returns to the idiom of the first movement's tonal section, and here it is the cor anglé that has the lion’s share of virtuoso expression. The music calms down and transitions into a slow finale with the feeling of an epilogue. The soloists dominate this movement, somberly reflecting on all that has gone before, and the work ends with a retreat into the desolation of the opening. The Triple Concerto is somewhat more conventional, but no less satisfying and original. The work’s main melodic material is a gentle folk-like lullaby, which bears a distant resemblance to "Greensleeves" that the composer wrote to celebrate the birth of his grand-daughter. This is presented in a lovely, very tonal first movement; thereafter, though, the concerto has little of this character about it, proceeding as a dramatic argument in the tradition of the Romantic concerto, with the concertante group in intense discourse amongst itself. The second movement, which shatters the atmosphere of the first without warning, is a vigorous, propulsive scherzo-like movement. The slow movement is somber and mysterious, dark-hued in the soloists' lamenting colloquy. The finale begins with a mournful, shadow-haunted recollection of the lullaby, but an impertinent horn call abruptly dispels the gloom, ushering in a joyfully dancing, high-energy romp, a vigorously affirmative quasi-cadenza, and a radiant conclusion. Dimitri Mestdag (cor anglais), Anneleen Lemaerts (harp), Storioni Trio, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; Olari Elts.


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