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Sallinen: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4

David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality:

Sound Quality:

The performances here are stunning. Believe it or not, this is the third recording (at least) of the Fourth Symphony, a marvelously focused piece from a composer whose work over the past decade or so has seemed quite patchy. Its three movements alternate memorable thematic material with those marvelously luminous string clusters and bell sounds that Sallinen understands as well as anyone alive. The Horn Concerto is similarly well-written and colorful, and it’s splendidly played by soloist Esa Tapani. Sallinen exploits the instrument’s historic role as a hunting instrument, but also leaves plenty of room for Romantic lyricism, and the concerto isn’t a second too long.

The remaining two works are a touch less alluring, but they’re important to Sallinen’s artistic development. Symphony No. 2 takes the form of a dialog between the orchestra and a solo percussionist, and like most such works the thematic material seems a bit thin. To Sallinen’s credit, however, the music never outstays its 16-minute duration, and as with all the pieces here the performance is spectacularly vivid. It will grow on you. I’m not sure that same can be said of Mauermusik, an early work dedicated to the memory of a young East German man shot at the Berlin Wall. I respect the concept, but the music simply strikes me as miserable. But it’s less than 10 minutes long, and it doesn’t lessen the appeal of the other three works, all of which are as brilliantly recorded as they are conducted and played. An excellent release. [2/24/2006]

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

AULIS SALLINEN - Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4; Horn Concerto; Mauermusik

  • Record Label: CPO - 999 969-2
  • Medium: CD

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