JOONAS KOKKONEN (1921-1996): Requiem in memoriam Maija Kokkonen (arr. choir and organ Jouko Linjama [b.1934]), Organ pieces: Wedding Music, Funeral Music, Lux aeterna, Iuxta crucem.
Catalogue Number: 09T046
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0434
Description: Kokkonen's Requiem, heard here in the première recording of the new version by Jouko Linjama which skillfully transcribes the large orchestral part for organ, thus making the superb piece more accessible to a wider range of performers, was a deeply personal work for the composer. He wrote it in memory of his first wife, writing "the most beautiful thing he could" at the urging of a close friend (and subsequently second wife). Thus the work is one of consolation and healing, a journey from despair to light. As with most of Kokkonen's later, and greatest, music, the piece is based on economical little motivic cells and melodies constructed from dodecaphonic note-rows, chosen to sound melodic first and foremost, eschewing the angular leaps and dissonant intervals preferred by stricter dodecaphonists. These are then clothed in rich tonal harmony, and the result is music which sounds more tonal than not, and is seldom harshly dissonant. The composer omits the Dies irae and the dread-filled Libera me as alien to the work's message of hope rather than death and judgment, and ends with the radiant In paradisum and Lux æterna. The organ pieces are Kokkonen's entire output for the instrument. The earlier two pieces, for specific occasions, are finely wrought and relatively conventional; Lux æterna, an impressively cumulative work on a hymn-like theme from Kokkonen's opera The Last Temptations, and Iuxta crucem, which includes some marvellous textures and a powerful toccata and chordal climax, are more individual and leave one wishing that he had composed more extensively for the organ. Suvi Väyrynen (soprano), Joose Vähåsöyrinki (baritone), Jan Lehtola (organ of Paavali Church, Helsinki), Klemetti Institute Chamber Choir; Heikki Liimola.