As the collective title of this generously filled release makes
clear, the three works recorded here were written for the Ostrobothnian
Chamber Orchestra and Juha Kangas.
The late Pehr Henrik Nordgren had a long association with the
orchestra for which he composed many works. This long series
of works started with a short arrangement of a Bothnian folk
hymn The Whole World Will Lament Op.26b
rev. 1974) and continued with numerous works for strings alone
and concertos for soloists and strings. One of the most recent
is Solemnity-Euphony Op.118
completed in 2002.
The dual title is rather typical of Nordgren since his output
includes such works as Rock Score Op.100
(1985) and Hate-Love Op.71
- cello and strings). The title also obliquely refers to some
earlier works all sharing the title of “Euphony” -
there are four of them. From the opening tremolo, the music piles-up
to reach a cluster creating an eerie atmosphere. This is brought
to a stop and there follows a new section suggesting a rustic
dance - fairly characteristic of Nordgren. These elements keep
alternating throughout till a brief, fleeting quote from Schumann’s Träumerei
the work to its assertive conclusion.
Appropriately enough Vasks’ Musica appassionata
with an impassioned outpouring. Later the music becomes rather
more lyrical than impassioned, although it remains tense throughout.
Many of Vasks’ fingerprints are to be heard in the course
of the piece; and the music alternates the reflective with the
lighter and almost dance-like. The music progressively builds-up
to a massive climax abruptly cut short and followed by a beautifully
Anders Eliasson’s music is less well represented than that
of Nordgren and Vasks, although it is far from neglected. It
is thus quite nice to be able to hear a recent, substantial work.
Originally tilted Sinfonia da camera II
, the Sinfonia
is substantial and in three movements played
without a break. This clearly emphasises the arch-like conception
of the work unfolding organically from some basic material constantly
metamorphosed. The long slow and sometimes tensely lyrical first
movement leads straight into a somewhat faster movement, too
slow however to be regarded as a real Scherzo. This in turn leads
to the final slow movement. Eliasson’s Sinfonia per
is a superbly crafted, honest and sincere piece
of real substance that needs but vastly repays repeated hearings.
Juha Kangas conducts vital readings of these marvellous works
that display a remarkable variety thanks to their respective
composers’ resourceful and imaginative writing for strings.
The orchestra responds with commitment and musicality. The recording
is up to Alba’s best even when heard on a standard CD player.
This superb release in another feather in this orchestra’s,
their conductor’s and Alba’s cap.