Music Web International, August 2012: "Fine writing and solid musicianship; a feast for Aho fans."; Ensemble, August 2012: “Die Interpreten spielen atemberaubend gut… Eine tolle CD!”
Renowned for his rich production in the field of orchestral music, Kalevi Aho is also a prolific composer for chamber forces. Here three works spanning two decades have been combined, with the Sonata for two accordions originating in 1984 as a Sonata for solo accordion described by the composer in his own liner notes as ‘comparable in aspiration with Liszt’s most virtuosic piano works’.
Completed five years later, the duo version exploits to the utmost the unique possibilities offered by the accordion and remains highly virtuosic. It was premièred as late as 2002 by Veli and Susanne Kujala, who also perform it on this recording.
At the other end of the time-line described by this disc, the Trio for clarinet, viola and piano was commissioned to be the set chamber music work of the 2006 Tampere Viola Competition. While the single-movement Trio reserves a prominent role for the viola, Aho describes it as ‘a quite short and flamboyant work in which each instrument has something important to say’.
Opening the disc is the large-scale Clarinet Quintet, composed in 1998 as one in a series of quintets involving woodwind instruments, begun in 1973 with an Oboe Quintet and completed by the 2006 Wind Quintet. Again a musician from the first performance appears on this disc: better known as a conductor, Osmo Vänskä began his career as principal clarinet in the Helsinki Philharmonic. By 1998 he had already made his mark as a conductor, with seminal recordings of Sibelius’ symphonies with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. But Vänskä was also – and has remained – a great champion of Kalevi Aho’s music, and was easily persuaded to take on the important clarinet part for the première of the quintet. For this return to the work, Vänskä has gathered members of the Minnesota Orchestra, where he is currently music director.