Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
Kalevi Aho really is a good composer–you can tell right from the beginning of his Second Piano Concerto. Scored only for keyboard and strings, the music unfolds effortlessly from its simple beginnings, the thematic material being consistently memorable, the string writing luminous and never monochrome. It’s a major addition to the contemporary literature for piano and chamber orchestra, and we can only hope that it slips into the repertoire without delay. Only the ending, somewhat abrupt and unexpected, lets the show down, and then only marginally. Antti Siirala plays the piece exquisitely and with great confidence, though her instrument has a relatively thin upper register. Still, this piece is a real find.
The same might be said of the Thirteenth Symphony. Like many of Aho’s later symphonic works, this piece is a true “concerto for orchestra”, with various instruments and sections highlighted throughout each of the work’s two multi-sectional movements. The work was composed for the Lahti Symphony, and in particular for the orchestra’s new hall, and it takes full advantage of the opportunity for atmospheric offstage effects. Osmo Vänskä and his ensemble play this music with proprietary pride, and the engineering is uniformly excellent. A terrific release. [9/21/2010]
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: None
KALEVI AHO - Piano Concerto No. 2; Symphony No. 13 "Symphonic Characterizations"