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Nordic Spell for all - including Dogs!,
This review is from: Concertos for Flute & Orchestra (Audio CD)
These may not be household name composers, indeed I was only familiar with Kalevi Aho's music but there is nothing to scare the traditional minded listeners away. All the concertos are very approachable, particularly the Lindberg and Tomasson though the Aho concerto is a more substantial and ultimately rewarding piece.
Sharon Bezaly's playing is at its strongest in the slow and most expressive moments in these pieces though she makes the more animated moments sound very easy. Her playing is flawless throughout.
The Aho concerto is more symphonic in scale than many concertos. He has written a number of concertante symphonies though this work is more pastoral and elegiac in mood than those. Indeed Aho's sleeve notes are illuminating, talking about the loss of his father being in the background to the work and then, in even more detail about the failing health of his dog during long walks in the country - it's funny how bereavment works. The work is in arc form, built on an extended opening slow movement than reflects the poetic melancholy and occasional anguish that Aho speaks of. The central quick movement becomes increasingly animated and bears some resemblance to his marvellous Symphonic Dances (check out the sensational BIS recording of these). The work then returns to the initial slow music.
Haukur Tomasson's music is new to me and the description of him as one of Iceland's leading composers isn't very reassuring - how many composers does Iceland have? The music is very attractive built around five quite short movements that combine a Messiaen like harmony with early Stravinskian orchesrtal colour. It may not be a substantial work but it is very attractive none the less.
The Christian Lindberg concerto is even more approachable combining more extrovert dance rhythms with a latin feel to some of the melodies. It was inspired by his viewing of a documentary about Brazilian transvestites - but don't let that put you off. It is a perfect complement to the more introverted Aho concerto that begins the disc. In other words, the three concertos balance each other very well as a programme.
The BIS recording is uniformally warm and clear and the playing first rate by the orchestras. This was recorded in three separate locations but you'd never know. I can recommend this disc heartily to every one.