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Joonas Kokkonen (1921-1996) is considered "Finland's most significant composer after Sibelius" (American Record Guide). However, he still awaits discovery among many lovers of accessible contemporary music. Sakari Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, unrivaled champions of Finnish late 20th-century music, have taken up this task with a complete Kokkonen symphonies cycle: the benchmark first volume, Symphonies 3 & 4, coupled with Cello Concerto, was unanimously hailed by the press as a 'must-have disc'. On this new release, they perform the first two symphonies, coupled with Opus sonorum for orchestra. Written in the years following Sibelius's death in 1957, these masterpieces reveal Kokkonen's affinity with the music of J.S. Bach and his full exploration of expressive tonal colours.
Joonas Kokkonen: Symphony No. 1
Joonas Kokkonen: Symphony No. 2
I. Adagio non troppo
IV. Allegro vivace
Joonas Kokkonen: Opus sonorum
I. Moderato - II. Adagio non troppo - III. Allegro non troppo
“Oramo gets playing of real bite and energy in the third movement of the First Symphony, an there is never any doubting his commitment, or that of his players, to Kokkonen's cause.”
12th February 2009
“For Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo, a man with a yen for reviving neglected composers, Joonas Kokkonen is an important figure. He's the "missing link" between the great Jan Sibelius and a new generation of Finnish composers such as Magnus Lindberg. Frankly, it's hard to imagine a brilliant composer like Lindberg learning much from the earnest, rhythmically four-square, formally predictable Kokkonen. Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra give performances which respect the music's craftsmanlike virtues – more's the pity. A bit of bravura might have helped the music to speak.”
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