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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music of Wind and Fire,, 19 Dec 2011
By 
Mr. A. R. Boyes "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Aho: Symphonic Dances / Symphony No. 11 (Audio CD)
This is a spectacular piece of recording by BIS, who have committed themselves to recording all of Aho's symphonies. The Symphonic Dances, however, steal the show with a demonstration quality recording of show piece ballet music. For anyone new to Aho's music, this is the place to start.The music was intended as a completion of Uuno Klami's ballet based on a Kalevala tale about the forging of an enchanted sword. This is big, fairy tale music, not dissimilar to the louder parts of the Firebird - maybe Stravinsky's Firebird meets Prokofiev's Scythian Suite. The musical language is contemporary but very accessible and colourful. The fourth movement particularly catches the ear taking up more than half of the work as a whole. This movement depicts the final forging of the "Sampo" sword - it is breathlessly spectacular but still manages a tender and lyrical conclusion.

The symphony is a slightly tougher nut to crack but is, again, superbly performed and recorded. I must say though, that as I grow increasingly familiar with it; it is becoming one of my favourite Aho symphonies. The opeing to the symphony has an icy chill before the Kroumata percussion group crack into gear and the music becomes more animated, following an extended section for multiple castanets (nothing very Spanish sounding here though). The second movement, in part scherzo and in part more meaty takes the work to a very busy climax beforte the long and contemplative finale. This is magical stillness and I guess SACD helps to capture the movement around the hall of the percussionists (Kroumata Group). Repeated listenings reveal just what a satisfying musical structure this - I think this might become the more rewarding listening of the two works over a period of time. Either way, both are terrific. Again the music is superbly orchestrated.

Aho's musical language is sometimes compared to Mahler, Shostakovich and Schnittke. Aho's music is less expressionistic with its expressiveness more a reflection of Aho's love of a large orchetral palette and master craftsmanship. You could say that there's less hysteria than Mahler or Schnittke (though his Cello concerto is uncompromising). The influence of his teacher, Rautavaara is perhaps more important than the other mentioned composers without the mellow new feel of his work. In other words; Kalevi Aho sounds like Kalevi Aho - a very fien composer at the height of his powers.

This an outstanding recording and an ideal place to start exploring Kalevi Aho's weighty but very accessible music. Try this one for starters then explore the rest of the marvellous Aho series on the BIS label.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music of Wind and Fire, 9 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. A. R. Boyes "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This is a spectacular piece of recording by BIS, who have committed themselves to recording all of Aho's symphonies. The Symphonic Dances, however, steal the show with a demonstration quality recording of show piece ballet music. For anyone new to Aho's music, this is the place to start.The music was intended as a completion of Uuno Klami's ballet based on a Kalevala tale about the forging of an enchanted sword. This is big, fairy tale music, not dissimilar to the louder parts of the Firebird - maybe Stravinsky's Firebird meets Prokofiev's Scythian Suite. The musical language is contemporary but very accessible and colourful. The fourth movement particularly catches the ear taking up more than half of the work as a whole. This movement depicts the final forging of the "Sampo" sword - it is breathlessly spectacular but still manages a tender and lyrical conclusion.

The symphony is a slightly tougher nut to crack but is, again, superbly performed and recorded. The contemplative finale is a long way from the Symphonic Dances. The balance between the three movements is very effective - a slow opening seciton followed by more animated percussive music; a quicker and percussie second movement then a remarkably still and contemplative finale. Repeated listenings reveal just what a satisfying musical structure this - I think this might become the more rewarding listening of the two works over a period of time. Either way, both are terrific. Again the music is superbly orchestrated.

Aho's musical language is sometimes compared to Mahler, Shostakovich and Schnittke. Whilst this is true it doesn't have quite the intensity of expression that they possess - Aho's music is less expressionistic with its expressiveness more a reflection of Aho's love of a large orchetral palette and master craftsmanship. You could say that there's less hysteria than Mahler or Schnittke. The influence of his teacher, Rautavaara is perhaps more important than the other mentioned composers. This an outstanding recording and an ideal place to start exploring Kalevi Aho's weighty but very accessible music.

Try this one for starters then explore the rest of the marvellous Aho series on the BIS label.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Symphony from the 21st century's greatest composer., 10 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Aho: Symphonic Dances / Symphony No. 11 (Audio CD)
Aho is up to his 16yh symphony, I believe. I hope he keeps going. Why is no American orchestra programming his music, and seemingly waiting until he is dead.
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Aho: Symphonic Dances / Symphony No. 11
Aho: Symphonic Dances / Symphony No. 11 by Kroumata Percussion Ensemble (Audio CD - 2004)
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