KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Tuba Concerto (Øystein Baadsvik Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Mats Rondin), Contrabassoon Concerto (Lewis Lipnick, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Andrew Litton).
Catalogue Number: 03I096
Description: These concertos are ambitious, uncompromising and replete with dramatic purpose, even though cast as concertante vehicles for unconventional solo instruments. Aho makes much of the flexibility and cantabile qualities of the tuba in his concerto; the second movement, a kind of scherzo, incorporates an extended cadenza fully exploiting the instrument's range, without ever using extended techniques. The first movement is songlike; t he last a dramatic presto with a mysterious introduction. There are very few concerti for contrabassoon, but Aho has more than made up for this omission; this piece feels like a fully-fledged symphony with soloist, and the bassoon's big brother is perfectly capable of holding its own as a narrator of virtuosity and drama. The opening of the work is in fact a monologue for the contrabassoon, after which the orchestra joins in, initially in the lowest registers; Aho makes a good deal of highly imaginative play between the unusual, and unusually wide, register of the instrument and various instrumental combinations. In both concerti the general vocabulary is typical Aho, with reminiscences of Sibelius, Shostakovich and notable similarities to his compatriot, Sallinen. The contrabassoon concerto in particular is a magnificent work, which stands comparison with anything else in the composer's output