Kaipainen’s music is not hard work.
If you can accept Shostakovich and Britten
then you will have no problems on that
count. He was a composition pupil at
the Sibelius Academy of Sallinen and
Heininen. To my ears it is Sallinen,
himself a composer of Finland’s most
grippingly exciting Cello Concerto,
whose influence can on occasion be most
clearly felt in these two works.
Concerto is no half-pint job. It
runs to not far short of half an hour.
The first movement is a tour de force
with a real chasseur character. This
carries over into the pell-mell howling-growling
finale. Familiar landmarks include the
horn writing in Britten’s Serenade
as well as the ruthless determination
of Arnold Cooke. At times the violence
has an abrupt Panufnik-like tread. There
are lighter moments too as towards the
end of the movement where there is a
husky cantilena from Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen.
Not for the last time is Kaipainen’s
music allusive; in the slow movement
of the Cello Concerto we get decidedly
Tchaikovskian episodes. These retrospective
references are more in the nature of
fully resolved asides rather than extended
pastiche. Not so much a case of Rochberg
as of Silvestrov (Symphony No. 5) or,
where the quote is direct, Shostakovich
(Symphony No. 15). This is a composer
who can wink gleefully at the listener,
spiral and spin into sumptuously imaginative
melodies yet hold open the door to the
macabre and the tragic. He writes mercurial
works where moods change chameleon-like
within and between movements. The Cello
Concerto across its three movements
traverses nightmare intensity, calming
ebb and flow and quicksilver fantasy.
In its final gasp this concerto looks
back to the ghastly visions of the opening.
Both soloists are extremely impressive
and the double stopping in the first
movement of the Cello Concerto is almost
The concertos two works
are stunningly recorded; alive with
detail both gritty and mellifluous.
Design and documentation are all they
should be. In fact Ondine have surreptitiously
outstripped the national competition
in presenting Finnish contemporary music.
Long may they continue.
Worth remembering that
Ondine have already recorded Kaipainen's
Symphony No. 2, Oboe Concerto, Sisyphus
Dreams. Helén Jahren, oboe, Finnish
RSO/Sakari Oramo, on ODE 855-2. I have
not heard this as yet.
Two grippingly unruly
and imaginative concertos stunningly
recorded and annotated.