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With fifteen symphonies in his work list to date, as well as numerous other orchestral pieces, Kalevi Aho is one of today's most important composers of orchestral music. Twelve of the symphonies have already been released on BIS, in recordings that have earned an ever-growing interest. recent discs have been met with acclaim, for instance in the International Record Review where Symphony No.12 (‘Luosto') was described as ‘music of such graphic impact and visually arresting imagery that it feels as though you could reach out and touch it'.
Symphony No.13 was written for the fifth anniversary of the Sibelius Hall in Lahti in 2003, and exploits the acoustic capabilities of the hall to the full. Subtitled ‘Symphonic Characterizations', the work portrays a spectrum of human character types in two long movements divided into a number of shorter sections. One year before the symphony Kalevi Aho completed his Second Piano Concerto, for piano and string orchestra. It was written with the Finnish pianist Antti Siirala in mind, and in the composer's own words ‘the demanding piano writing is primarily a consequence of Siirala's remarkable command of the ‘Beethovenian-Lisztian-Brahmsian' pianistic tradition.'
Kalevi Aho: Piano Concerto No. 2
Kalevi Aho: Symphony No. 13, "Sinfonisia Luonnekuvia" (Symphonic Character Studies)
I. Introduzione - Allegro imperioso - Interludio I - Andante semplice, malinconico - Interludio II - Moderato aristocratico
II. Introduzione - Presto violento e allegretto strisciante e accondiscente - Andante triste e rassegnato - Sunto e culminante - Epilogo
20th August 2010
“The orchestral playing is impressive and conductor Osmo Vänskä shapes a cohesive narrative...Antti Siirala is eloquent too in the concerto”
2nd September 2010
“It's a strange, sometimes strenuous work, recycling material from Aho's opera The Book of Secrets and echoing a surprising range of 20th-century composers, both European and American. There's something of the character of a concerto for orchestra about it and Vänskä's band makes the most of that”
“[the orchestra] give Osmo Vänskä performances of utter commitment. Antii Siirala brings playing that is both sparkling and meaty to the Concerto, and it goes without saying that the BIS recording is both transparent and full-bodied. Strongly recommended.”
Awards Issue 2010
“Both pieces are classics examples of Aho's more recent manner, and a truly engaging manner it is, especially in the hands of such committed performers as these”