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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]
Arto Noras (cello) (III & Elegy); Mika Väyrynen (accordion) (V)
Virtuosi di Kuhmo/Ralf Gothóni (piano - Tango & IV)
rec. Järvenpää Hall, February 2005
CPO 777 147-2 [73:08]


 
The 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 Tango Overture, 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.
 
The 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.
 
Chamber 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.
 
Subtitled “Barabbas 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 are 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.
 
This 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.
 
Hubert Culot

 

CPO’s Sallinen Edition
 
CPO 999 918-2
Symphony No.1 Op.24
Symphony No.7 Op.71
A Solemn Overture Op.75
Chorali Op.22
 
CPO 999 969-2
Symphony No.2 Op.29
Symphony No.4 Op.49
Horn Concerto Op.82
Mauermusik Op.7
 
CPO 999 972-2
Symphony No.8 Op.81
Violin Concerto Op.18
The Palace Rhapsody Op.72
 
CPO 777 077-2
Barabbas Dialogues Op.84


 


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