Aulis SALLINEN (b.
1935) Introduction and Tango Overture Op.74b (1997)a [10:14] Chamber Music III Op.58 (1986)b [20:06] Elegy for Sebastian Knight Op.10 (1964)b [4:25] Chamber Music IV Op.79 (2000)a [16:57] Chamber Music V Op.80 (2000)c [20:57]
(cello) (III & Elegy); Mika Väyrynen (accordion)
Virtuosi di Kuhmo/Ralf Gothóni (piano - Tango & IV)
rec. Järvenpää Hall, February 2005 CPO 777 147-2 [73:08]
backbone of Sallinen’s output undoubtedly lies in his symphonies
and his operas but he also composed a good deal of chamber
music. This includes five string quartets, and a handful
of hybrid works that share the title of ‘Chamber Music’.
This is a bit misleading, for these works are rather like
concertinos. All but the first are for solo instruments
and strings or chamber orchestra. In fact, Introduction
and TangoOverture, originally
for piano and string quartet but also arranged for piano
and string orchestra, might fit into the series too. This – to
a certain extent – justifies its inclusion here.
earliest work is for solo cello and was written at an important
period in Sallinen’s stylistic progress: at the time when
he was trying to find a way out of strict serialism, although
he never really adopted it completely. Elegy for
Sebastian Knight may be said to have sown
the seeds of Sallinen’s mature style. This short piece
was the first of a long series of works for cello. These
include a substantial concerto, a sonata for solo cello,
a sonata for cello and piano as well as Chamber Music
III, subtitled “The Nocturnal Dances of Don
Juanquijote”. However, at about the time he completed the Elegy,
Sallinen also composed his Metamorphosen for
piano and chamber orchestra, based on a fragment from the Elegy.
More than thirty years later, Sallinen reworked that piece,
mostly by simplifying the scoring, and titled it Chamber
Music IV heard here. Although this work bears
a late opus number and bears a late date of composition,
it is essentially an early work from the 1960s written
in a rather sterner and more abrasive idiom, displaying
some greater angularity.
Music III is
probably the best-known of the set, at least if one
is to judge from the number of commercial recordings
available. It has been recorded by Torleif Thedéen
and the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Osmo Vänskä (BIS-CD-560)
and by Yuli Turovski and I Musici di Montréal (Chandos
CHAN 9973), whereas Arto Noras recorded it several
years ago with the Finlandia Sinfonietta conducted
by Okko Kamu (Finlandia FACD 370 published in 1989
and it is to be hoped still available). The subtitle
gives some indication as to the nature of the music,
mostly its emphasis on Spanish rhythms, but eerie harmonies
sometimes belie the good-humoured nature of much of
the music. The work unfolds as a suite of dances interspersed
with a refrain; quite entertaining although the music
eventually dissolves unresolved into thin air.
Variations”, Chamber Music V is based
on material from the magnificent chamber oratorio Barabbas
Dialogues which I reviewed some time ago
(available on CPO 777 077-2 - see below) and which I consider
one of the finest recent works by Sallinen. The variations
continuous and form an unbroken whole, a “dance-rhapsody
that alternates energy and reflection” (Martin Anderson).
On the whole, however, this very fine and utterly serious
work is yet another concertino, and – more importantly – a
substantial addition to the accordion’s modern ‘classical’ repertoire.
superb and generously filled release is actually the fifth
instalment in CPO’s continuing Sallinen Edition (see below).
It goes from strength to strength. Performances and recording
are excellent and up to the high quality standards one
has come to expect from this brave label. I for one cannot
wait for the forthcoming instalments. This release which
sheds interesting light on an important, but sometimes
overlooked facet of Sallinen’s output.
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