Author Topic: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)  (Read 32662 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« on: May 28, 2008, 02:43:07 PM »
Quite a few members have mentioned in passing the outstanding contemporary Finnish composer Kalevi Aho. I think that he deserves a thread of his own!

I won't repeat what I said about him in another post but I shall provide the link-

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,7529.40.html

Hopefully other admirers might like to comment :) ;)

Greta

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2008, 03:11:48 PM »
You've got my attention here!  ;D

Kalevi Aho is just great. And the disc with the Clarinet Concertos is fantastic. Martin Frost is a beast!



I don't know a whole lot of Aho yet, but I love the Insect Symphony, it's outrageously fun and imaginative.

Special mention goes to his Symphonic Dances, a 30 min delicacy of air, wind, and fire, which wouldn't sound out of place in a movie! Vivid and dancy writing.

Dundonnell, what else can you suggest? He has written a lot...

gomro

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 04:27:48 PM »
Quite a few members have mentioned in passing the outstanding contemporary Finnish composer Kalevi Aho. I think that he deserves a thread of his own!

I won't repeat what I said about him in another post but I shall provide the link-

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,7529.40.html

Hopefully other admirers might like to comment :) ;)

I have one disc of Aho, the Symphonic Dances (after Uuno Klami) and the 11th Symphony. Both very fine; I need to try some more of his work!

Offline Keemun

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 04:38:06 PM »


I've always thought that album cover is ridiculous.  What exactly is Martin Frost supposed to be doing?  Running from a clarinet thief?  Jazz dancing?  Winding-up to whack his agent with his clarinet?  ;D 


What are your recommendations for someone new to Aho? 
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 04:47:05 PM by Keemun »
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Greta

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 06:33:13 PM »
I've always thought that album cover is ridiculous.  What exactly is Martin Frost supposed to be doing?  Running from a clarinet thief?  Jazz dancing?  Winding-up to whack his agent with his clarinet?  ;D 

Well, it's Martin Frost. ;D He's kinda crazy like that, see below...

Frost and Aho talking about the concerto

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/17DKJziXppQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/17DKJziXppQ</a>


Offline vandermolen

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2008, 12:14:24 AM »
This is a composer I need to explore. Where do I start please?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2008, 02:16:07 AM »
Exploring the music of a new composer to whose idiom one feels attuned is a wonderful voyage of discovery(I know that sounds a bit pretentious-but it's true!). When it is a living composer one has the additional knowledge that the composer will develop his art further in the future(hopefully, at least). And when a record company has kindly put most of that composer's music onto disc the task is so much easier! :)

I started with Aho's Symphony No.1 because it was the first one recorded and because it had been highly praised by the perceptive British music critic Robert Layton-whose views I respect, particularly with regard to Scandinavian music on which he is an authority.
The 1st is clearly indebted to Shostakovich(the Shostakovich of the Eighth and Eleventh symphonies, for example) but shows considerable imagination for a 20-year old composer still in his first year as a student at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki(studying under Rautavaara)with its eerie distortions of a baroque idiom. The fourth movement is a very Russian-sounding, grimly impressive fugue of considerable power. It seemed obvious to me that this was a young man with something to say, that there was a clear underlying purpose to the music, that it was 'going somewhere'-which is not something, I fear, that I can say of some very modern music!

(I admit that I do like a lot of Scandinavian music for that very reason and because the serious, Nordic sound does appeal very much to my ear.)

Of course, Aho's idiom does develop and become somewhat more challenging in the later symphonies but I can appreciate and admire them all. He has not 'lost me' despite my 'conservative' tastes in music.

Sorry if I am rambling over-subjectively! :) I shall try to pull myself together to comment more objectively on some of the later symphonies anon.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2008, 05:21:54 AM »
Colin,

That's actually very helpful. Thank you.

Jeffrey
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2008, 11:37:41 AM »
I downloaded Aho's Eighth Symphony for organ and orchestra a few weeks ago, but haven't come round yet to listening to it. When I have, I'll report back.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Brewski

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2008, 11:46:14 AM »
The only Aho I've heard is the "Insect" Symphony (No. 7), both the BIS recording and a broadcast online with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra (recorded in 2005).  Fascinating piece, and one I'd like to get to know much better.  IIRC Vänskä intends to do more Aho on his Minnesota programs. 

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Drasko

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2008, 11:51:46 AM »
He did very fine orchestration of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death. Available on BIS with Salminen singing accompanied by Lahti/Vänskä.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2008, 04:13:58 PM »
To add a little to my earlier posts-

Aho's symphonies really divide into three groups:

Firstly, those he wrote whilst still in his twenties(Nos. 1-6, 1969-80). Of these, No. 1 is clearly indebted to Shostakovich with a very Russian sense of the grotesque, No.2 is a very fine work in one movement which, as in several of the early Aho symphonies makes extensive use of the fugue. No. 5, again in one huge movement requires a very large orchestra and, although it has received an adequate recording on Ondine by the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra under Max Pommer, BIS has not yet got round to recording either it or No. 6 because Robert von Bahr is looking for a larger orchestra than the Lahti Symphony to perform these works(which does seem a little odd since the Lahti orchestra has managed very well with the others!).

My own favourite out of these first six(I haven't heard No.6 of course) is No.4. This is on BIS-CD-1066 coupled with the Chinese Songs.
The symphony was composed in 1972-73(when Aho was 23 years old). It is a big symphony-44'20 minutes long and is immensely impressive, in my opinion. Yes, it does still-to an extent-remind one of Shostakovich or, to a lesser extent, Prokofiev-particularly in the violent percussive second movement-but there is a power and grandeur which is almost Brucknerian in its intensity without sounding like Bruckner-if I can make that distinction-in other words it doesn't sound like Rautavaara's 3rd.

Secondly, there is No. 7-the 'Insect Symphony'(1988)-which does stand apart from the others. Yes, it is great fun but it really is more of a suite, drawing as it does on material from Aho's Opera 'Insect Life'.

Thirdly, there are the symphonies Aho has composed for the Lahti Symphony Orchestra as composer-in-residence-Nos. 8-14. I haven't heard Nos. 12-14 but Nos. 8-11 are an extremely interesting and diverse group. No. 8 is for organ and orchestra, No. 9 is a virtuoso tour de force for trombone and orchestra, and No. 11 an amazing work for six percussionists and orchestra.

My own personal favourite out of the later symphonies is No.10(1996), a monumental masterpiece in my judgment and one of the greatest contemporary symphonies. The symphony quotes from both Mozart and Bruckner. It contains passages of tremendous lyrical outpourings from the strings, particularly in the 20 minute long Adagio slow movement.

I urge all those who have not heard any or much Aho to try Symphonies No.4 and No.10! They are fantastic achievements. I can think of few-if any-living composers still capable of writing such extended compositions combining strength, power and beauty as to be found in these two symphonies! As I write I am listening again to the Lento finale of No.4. It contains the most breathtaking desolation, a la Shostakovich, but a beauty too which recalls the magical world of the early Stravinsky ballets, just occasionally(believe it or not) Vaughan Williams-but all in a modern contemporary idiom. Sometimes I think of Schnittke but without the manic depressive overtones. I defy anyone not to be swept away, however, by the closing pages of a great symphony!

And...if you don't believe me, try this-

http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=12114&highlight=1&highlightterms=&lstKeywords=


There....enthusiastic enough for you?? :) :)
« Last Edit: May 29, 2008, 04:19:53 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2008, 08:57:46 PM »
You're setting your kilt on fire, if you're not careful, Colin! Calm down!

I'll download #4 and #10. Just to check the veracity of your rant, mind you, nothing more.

 ;)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline mr_espansiva

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2008, 12:16:08 AM »
I've got the disc of No 4 with the Chinese Songs and it is a mightily impressive piece for a young composer. It may not quite sustain its length but it has an epic seriousness and traditional tonality that is quite rare in stuff written after the war.
Espansiva - the Inextinguishable desire for chocolate.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2008, 01:27:09 AM »
You're setting your kilt on fire, if you're not careful, Colin! Calm down!

I'll download #4 and #10. Just to check the veracity of your rant, mind you, nothing more.

 ;)

I am sure that you will enjoy them, Johan.

Just for the record....never worn a kilt in my life :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2008, 01:27:50 AM »
I've got the disc of No 4 with the Chinese Songs and it is a mightily impressive piece for a young composer. It may not quite sustain its length but it has an epic seriousness and traditional tonality that is quite rare in stuff written after the war.

Well said!

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2008, 01:28:39 AM »
I am sure that you will enjoy them, Johan.

Just for the record....never worn a kilt in my life :)

Neither have I any clogs...  ;)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2008, 01:42:09 AM »
 :)

Offline rickardg

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2008, 10:14:16 AM »
I don't know if you've seen it, but BIS is releasing Aho's Symphony No 12 "Luosto". I'm listening to the first movement on Naxos Music Library as I type, lot's of exciting percussion and brass!

It's not on the BIS web site yet, but eclassical's got it.

Quote from: the blurb on eclassical.com
Aho: Symphony No. 12 (Luosto Symphony). Written for a performance on the slopes of Mount Luosto in Finnish Lapland, it makes use of two orchestras, two vocal soloists and a number of brass players and percussionists placed at various distances from each other and the conductor, surrounding the audience. The primary inspiration for this four-movement work came from the natural surroundings and traditions of Lapland, and parts of it were actually composed during a bitterly cold spell in the solitude of a cottage at the foot of Orresokka, the mountain next to Luosto.
Taina Piira, soprano; Aki Alamikkotervo, tenor; Lahti Symphony Orchestra; Chamber Orchestra of Lapland; John Storgårds, conductor.


Offline Christo

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Re: Kalevi Aho(born 1949)
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2008, 11:30:38 AM »
Neither have I any clogs...  ;)

I, however, did  :D - and I even used to wear them, as a youth, when they were the most practical footwear imaginable, in that specific context. (However, a colleague who used to stumble around with them in an Amsterdam university, history department, 9th floor, was generally conceived to behave somewhat weird ... )  :)

At the same time: a never saw a windmill or for that matter: tulips, in my life.  8) And I never really tried Aho's music,  :-\  :'( even if I own a few BIS CD's, the Eight among them, bought in Stockholm, but perhaps never played ... I surely will now!!  0:) :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948