AULIS SALLINEN (b.1935): Cello Sonata, Op. 86, Piano Trio, Op. 96, From a Swan Song for Cello and Piano, Op. 67.

Catalogue Number: 02Q063

Label: CPO

Reference: 777 814-2

Format: CD

Price: $15.98

Description: The sonata is a substantial four-movement piece, generally rather introverted and melancholy in mood, aside from the energetic scherzo, a rather angular, minor-key Finnish take on the tango. The piece opens with a barcarolle rhythm, from which restrained, fluid variations arise. The second movement, serenata, features guitar-like strumming of the cello, evoking the scene of a serenade beneath a lady's window. After the vigorous tango, the finale resumes the serious mood of the opening, anguished and passionate, briefly reflecting on ideas from the earlier movements, hinting at resolution, then abruptly cut short. Swan Song is a kind of fantasia on an aria from Sallinen's satirical opera from the early 1990s, The Palace. The 'swan song' sung by the King in the opera vies for attention with other material throughout the piece, including strident 'fanfares', a driven, motoric climax and a rather aggressive dance, before reasserting its mood of pathos at the end. The recent (2010) trio is accompanied by an intriguing poetic image in the composer's programme note; the fugitive visions are those remaining in the memory of an artist with failing senses. The perceptive booklet note writer speculates that there may be an autobiographical element to this, as the composer, now about to turn eighty, contemplates his own mortality. There may be something to this, as all three movements begin with muscularly stated gestures, typical of Sallinen's style and instantly recognisable as such, but all gradually lose momentum, assuming a subdued, autumnal air, increasingly desolate. Elina Vähälä (violin), Arto Noras (cello), Ralf Gothóni (piano).

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