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ESA-Pekka SALONEN (born 1958)
Mimo II (1992)a
Floof (1988/90)b
Yta III (1986)c
Yta IIb (1985, arranged 1987)d
Yta II (1985)e
Yta I (1982)f
Meeting (1982)g
Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (1980/1, rev. 1983)h
Nachtlieder (1978)i
Jorma Valjakka (oboe)a; Anu Komsi (soprano)b; Avanti! Chamber Orchestrab; Anssi Karttunen (cello)c; Jukka Tiensuu (harpsichord)dg; Tulja Hakkila (piano)e; Mikael Helasvuo (alto flute)f; Kari Kriikku (clarinet)g; Pekka Savijoki (alto saxophone)h; Kullervo Kojo (clarinet)i; Juhanni Lagerspetz (piano)i;
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestraah;
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Recorded: Culture Hall, Helsinki, May 1993a and February 1989g; Finnish Broadcasting Company Studio M1, October 1991b; Astoria Hall, Helsinki, August 1991c; Puotila Chapel, Helsinki, October 1986d; Järvenpää Hall, December 1990e, May 1989f and February 1991i; Roihuvuori Church, Helsinki, May and September 1988g
FINLANDIA 0927-43815-2 [75:15]


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These recordings of fairly early works by Salonen were made and released between 1988 and 1993, and most of them were already re-issued on FINLANDIA 4509-95607-2 in 1994. (Yta IIb, Nachtlieder and Meeting were not included then.)

Nachtlieder (1978) is the earliest piece that Salonen still acknowledges. This serious, expressionistic piece is still redolent of Alban Berg whose Vier Stücke Op.4 were certainly Salonenís model, but none the worse for that.

The other solo pieces belong to Salonenís experimental period in which he explored and exploited the instrumentsí possibilities to their extreme. In this respect, the voice part in Floof is also almost instrumental and, in any case, highly virtuosic and brings Berioís Sequenza III to mind. Yta I (alto flute, 1982), Yta II (piano, 1985) and Yta III (cello, 1986) are all brilliant, technically taxing fantasies exploiting the instrumental resources to the full and often achieving stunning effects. Yta IIb was arranged for harpsichord by Jukka Tiensuu and, of course, almost sounds as a quite different piece. Floof is also a short showpiece for soprano and small ensemble setting a rather surrealistic text to which Salonenís overtly virtuosic, almost histrionic music humorously responds. Meeting for clarinet and harpsichord has much in common with the other pieces, a.o. a technically demanding solo writing evoking some fantastic visions.

The Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, completed in 1983 and revised in 1983, may Ė to a certain extent Ė be considered as the outcome of the preceding experiments as well as a pointer towards Salonenís mature works. There is still much frantic activity throughout the piece but other aspects of Salonenís musical thinking are now clearly audible, most important of all, a newly found interest for longer lines and for warmer orchestral textures, which characterise some of his most recent pieces such as the magnificent LA Variations (1996/7) and the beautifully atmospheric Images after Sappho (1999).

Mimo II, completed in 1992, is a small-scale concerto for oboe and orchestra in which Salonenís mature writing shines in full bloom. Elegance, sureness of touch and orchestral mastery are now evident throughout this brilliant, colourful and inventive piece.

So, in short, the present release is as welcome as it is timely, for it usefully complements SONYís recent release coupling several recent works of Salonen (SONY SK 89158, reviewed here some time ago) and provides for a comprehensive and illuminating (as well as musically satisfying) survey of Salonenís early musical progress.

All the performers have enjoyed Ė and still do Ė a long association with Salonenís music and these performances cannot, I believe, be bettered. Though a busy and successful conductor, Salonen is first and foremost a most distinguished composer whose achievement is well worth considering.

Hubert Culot


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