Magazine article Gramophone

Aho: Horn Concerto

Magazine article Gramophone

Aho: Horn Concerto

Article excerpt

Aho Horn Concerto (a). Acht Jahreszeiten (b) (a) Annu Salminen hn (b) Carolina Eyck theremin Lapland Chamber Orchestra / John Storgdrds BIS [F] [SACD] BIS2036 (58' * DDD/DSD)

Eighteen concertos, by the composer's own reckoning, for each of the main instruments in the Romantic symphony orchestra, and counting. And most of them derive impetus from reinventing what their respective solo instruments can do. Quality is more important than quantity or gimmicks, however, and the two works here recorded, both composed in 2011, are deeply impressive in their poetry, drama and inventive vigour.

In the Horn Concerto, the immediately striking elements are the soloist's 'off-colour' natural harmonics and her perambulations around the platform, which see her at times with the cornist in the 20-piece chamber orchestra, and at times in more bizarre dialogues with the double bass or the oboe. There is a conceptual affinity here with Thea Musgrave's Horn Concerto of 1971, and I mean that as a compliment to both composers. But the accumulating energy of the first half of Aho's work is something all his own, as are the dance-like recovery after the becalmed central cadenza (also a signature feature of his Ninth and Fifteenth symphonies) and the shying-away from any kind of grandstand conclusion. …

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