Jussi-Pekka Nuto is the youngest composer featured
in this selection. He studied at the Tampere Conservatoire with Bashmakov,
Syvinki and Vainikka, and is now a full-time teacher at the Conservatoire.
His orchestral piece Clap dates from 1997 and is thus
the most recent work recorded here. It is a fairly short orchestral
fantasy, a bit uncertain in terms of style and direction. It is at times
redolent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (however of the
latter’s quieter moments), but it is quite expertly written.
Laakso’s AM from 1992 is more
ambitious. It is in one single movement falling into several shorter
sections. It opens rather tentatively, but the music really takes flight
halfway through the work. The last section, which is by far the most
successful, is really very fine and has a grand tune of great beauty
cut short by an abrupt ending. A bit uneven, maybe, but well worth hearing.
Leonid Bashmakov, almost the "Grand Old
Man" here, is a fairly familiar name in Finnish music. A number
of his works (e.g. his flute concerto Impresioni Marine
dating from 1974, available on BIS CD-687), have been recorded. He has
a sizeable body of works to his credit, including nearly a dozen of
concertos. His Clarinet Concerto is in one single movement
made of several contrasted sections. It is a colourful, melodic, sometimes
more dramatic work of some substance and a really fine addition to the
repertoire; and one of the finest works here.
Sakari Vainikka’s Trumpet Concerto
dating from 1985, also in one movement, is a quite nice piece of music,
full of fine ideas which emphasise the trumpet’s lyrical qualities rather
than its more virtuosic possibilities. The overall mood of the piece
is rather elegiac and meditative than overtly exuberant, but the solo
part is still quite demanding in flawless, expressive legato
playing more than in sheer bravura fireworks. A quite substantial
and very accessible piece of music that should definitely be better
known. I for one would certainly want to hear more of his music.
Esko Syvinki’s Piano Concerto No.1 Op.4
from 1978 is a longer, more ambitious work. It is in five contrasted
movements: a slow introduction for piano leading into a lively Allegro
fading into the first slow movement Andante inquieto followed
by a fanciful Scherzo, a second slow movement with cadenza, and a final
Allegro (subtitled Dithyrambos). As the other pieces recorded
here, Syvinki’s concerto is cast in a fairly traditional idiom (i.e.
in 20th Century terms) often redolent of, say, Prokofiev,
but none the worse for that.
Most composers here were totally unknown to me, which
is a reason why releases such as the present one should be encouraged,
though they might be of more local interest; but they provide for a
most welcome opportunity to get in touch with unfamiliar, worthwhile
music, the more so when the standards of performance are as high as
here. The student orchestra may sound a bit under-nourished (particularly
the string section) but play with assurance and dedication. Well worth
investigating, especially for the Bashmakov and the Vainikka concertos.