JUHA LEINONEN (b.1956): Athene for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet, String Quartet No. 1 “Diary Sketches”, Foga for Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, String Trio and Piano.
Catalogue Number: 03V064
Reference: ABCD 447
Description: Leinonen's style draws freely from various modern idioms to synthesize an approachable, dynamic vocabulary. Athene, a 25 minute single span, grabs the listener's attention at the outset with a dissonant, aggressive introduction based on clusters, but almost immediately the music accelerates into a motoric toccata which occupies much of the rest of its exhilarating (to the point of exhaustion) duration. The engine for this frantically spinning mechanism is the piano; the other instruments are cogs, gears and flywheels driven by the pulsation of the keyboard figures. Several calmer episodes, still with a restless underlying pulse, occur along the way, decorated by melodic flights from the clarinet, and sometimes a string soloist. Similarly setting challenges of co-ordination and stamina for its players, over a similar timescale, the string quartet also presents a toccata-like propulsiveness with lyrical interludes, though in a much more intimate atmosphere than Athene, without the latter's aggression. The basic material is very economical; variants of a four-note chromatic figure, with intermittent expansion of intervals or extension into contrapuntally woven, sinuous melodies, while variations of pitches in the chromatic patterns played by different instruments generate expanding and contracting chords of greater or lesser degrees of dissonance. Foga is an earlier work, described by Kalevi Aho as "a sort of effective, compact little chamber concerto". It sounds a good deal more conventionally tonal than the more recent works. It begins with a melodic introduction which gives way to more energetic material; then a virtuosic cello cadenza leads to a ticking, churning, ostinato-driven toccata which takes up the remainder of the piece. Olli Leppäniemi (clarinets), Roope Gröndahl (piano), Terhi Paldanius, Jukka Untamala (violins), Antti Tikkanen (viola), Tomás Nuñez-Garcés (cello).