KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Symphony No. 14 for Chamber Orchestra, Darabuka, Djembe and Gongs "Rituals", Concerto for Viola and chamber Orchestra, The Book of Questions for Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 07L098
Description: These three works form an unusual unified cycle and were composed for an entire concert by the present ensemble, forming what the composer refers to as a "Meta-symphony" in three contrasting sections, the actual symphony providing the rhythmically vibrant finale. T he song cycle, to late, aphoristic, enigmatic texts by Neruda, sets a philosophical and predominantly somber mood, though with great variety and deft, subtle touches of orchestration framing the clear, lyrical vocal line. The concerto is written to succeed it without pause, the viola soloist replacing the mezzo in midstream, so to speak. Its music strongly contrasts with the preceding mood, though; much more extrovert, the piece opens with a bold, decisive statement from the soloist and proceeds through a succession of episodes alternating angry, fateful protestation and high-energy, trenchant Shostakovich-scherzo type material affording considerable opportunity for virtuosic display. The symphony includes in its orchestration two hand drums of Arabic and African origin which are employed to provide much of the rhythmic impetus of the work. Aggressive, tense percussion-driven energetic 'incantations' contrast with brief, withdrawn orchestral interludes and a climactic funeral march with tolling gongs, the emotional heart of the work. Aho's highly individual tonally-based language with its indebtedness to Shostakovich and Sibelius incorporated into a personal vocabulary very much his own, with fantastic use of orchestral color, is both approachable and emotionally compelling. Finnish-English texts. Monica Groop (mezzo), Anna Kreeta Gribajcevic (viola), Herman Rechberger (darabuka, djembe), Chamber Orchestra of Lapland; John Storgårds.