Classics Today: "A terrific release".
With fifteen symphonies in his work list to date, as well as numerous other orchestral pieces, Kalevi Aho is one of today's most important composers of orchestral music. Twelve of the symphonies have already been released on BIS, in recordings that have earned an ever-growing interest. Back in 1999, the release of Symphony No.7 ('Insect Symphony') caused the reviewer in the American Record Guide to call the work 'one of our century's great orchestral scores'. More recent discs have met with similar acclaim, for instance in the International Record Review where Symphony No.12 ('Luosto') was described as 'music of such graphic impact and visually arresting imagery that it feels as though you could reach out and touch it'. On the German website klassik.com, the reviewer similarly praised Symphony No.14 ('Rituals') for demonstrating 'the vitality of a genre believed to be extinct, with its seemingly boundless wealth of ideas and perfect craftsmanship.' Symphony No.13 was written for the fifth anniversary of the Sibelius Hall in Lahti in 2003, and exploits the acoustic capabilities of the hall to the full. Subtitled 'Symphonic Characterizations', the work portrays a spectrum of human character types in two long movements divided into a number of shorter sections. One year before the symphony Kalevi Aho completed his Second Piano Concerto, for piano and string orchestra. It was written with the Finnish pianist Antti Siirala in mind, and in the composer's own words 'the demanding piano writing is primarily a consequence of Siirala's remarkable command of the 'Beethovenian-Lisztian-Brahmsian' pianistic tradition.' Siirala is the soloist on the present recording, supported by Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, the eminent team which also gave the first performances of these two works.