Kalevi Aho - Rituals


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Kalevi Aho - Rituals



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27th April 2009




79 minutes


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Kalevi Aho - Rituals


Kysymysten kirja (The Book of Questions) for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra

Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra

Symphony No. 14 'Rituaaleja (Rituals) for chamber orchestra, darabuka, djembe and gongs

Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (viola) & Herman Rechberger (darabuka & djembe)

Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, John Storgårds


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In 2003 Kalevi Aho received the unusual commission of composing a complete concert programme. Kysymysten kirja, a meditative, philosophical song cycle using the Finnish translation of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's posthumous collection ‘The Book of Questions’. The poems included are made up exclusively of questions, of which Aho has chosen a number, combining them into eleven sets to be performed without a break. The concert leads immediately into the Viola Concerto, and ends with Symphony No.14, ‘Rituals’, scored for sixteen string players, wind quintet and two percussionists.

Aho, who this year celebrates his 60th birthday, is increasingly recognized as one of today's leading orchestral composers.

Kalevi Aho: Kysymysten Kirja (The Book of Questions)

I. Jos olenkin (If I Just Had)

II. Ruusun asu (The Rose's Apparel)

III. Merenneitojen Kyynelet (A Mermaid's Tears)

IV. Minne paattyy sateenkaari? (Where Does the Rainbow End?)

V. Nainen unessa (The Woman in the Dream)

VI. Mita merkitysta? (What Meaning?)

VII. Lapsuuteni Kuollessa (When my Childhood Died)

VIII. Tunneli (The Tunnel)

IX. Kun naen meren (When I See the Sea)

X. Kukkiva omenapuu (The Flowering Apple Tree)

XI. Perhoset (Butterflies)

Kalevi Aho: Viola Concerto

I. quarter note = 58

II. Presto

III. quarter note = 76

IV. Cadenza

V. Allegretto

Kalevi Aho: Symphony No. 14, "Rituaaleja" (Rituals)

I. Loitsu I (Kiihko) (Incantation I (Zeal))

II. Interludi (Interlude I)

III. Loitsu II (Kaiho ja vimma) (Incantation II (Yearning and Fury))

IV. Kulkue (Procession)

V. Interludi II (Interlude II)

VI. Loitsu III (Lopetuksen mantra) (Incantation III (Mantra of the Ending))

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“Following the Luosto Symphony's premiere, Aho wanted to write on a smaller scale, for chamber orchestra. In the event, however, he produced a concert full of three interlinked works (2006-07) that, while performable separately, taken together 'form some sort of great “meta-symphony”'.
The concert opens with The Book of Questions, a half-hour-long song-cycle to lines from Neruda's final collection. Absent is the lushness of the Chinese Songs: the opening and closing sections are spoken and not until the fourth section does anything like their radiance of vocal writing emerge; by the 10th there is a hint of Aho's old teacher Rautavaara. Monica Groop sings as beautifully as she may, but the cycle's restraint is all-pervasive. Not so in the Viola Concerto which starts from the same chord with which the cycle concludes (in concert the soloists play tag while the music is still sounding); this is the more familiar Aho, dramatic, lyric, rhythmically vital.
The Fourteenth Symphony (Rituals) forms the concert's second half, exchanging singer and viola-player for two percussionists, the first performing on the Arabian darabuka and African djembe (Aho confesses he is 'bored' with Western drums). Their special timbres infuse the three main sections called 'Incantation', separated by two interludes and a Procession in which the second percussionist takes centre stage with an array of gongs. At a few points the spirit of Hovhaness hovers dimly over proceedings but Aho's personal voice is too strong to succumb to pastiche. The performances here are strong and compelling, the soloists at the top of their game and BIS's recording (made in Rovaniemi Church) superb as always.”

Gramophone Magazine

August 2009

“A specially composed triptych of works forms one grand design. The performances here are strong and compelling, the soloists at the top of their game and BIS's recording (made in Rovaniemi Church) superb as always.”

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