KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Wind Quintets Nos. 1 and 2.
Catalogue Number: 07U065
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Aho's two wind quintets date from 2006 and 2014 respectively. Both are in four movements, but are of very different character, though they share an idiom of extended tonality. In No.1 we find the composer, as is his custom, assiduously investigating the precise character and capabilities of the instruments (think of his meticulous researches for the many concerti), and finding ways to overcome and even exploit the balance, pitch and timbre issues of the ensemble. Each movement is divided into contrasting halves, so in effect there are eight sections in which the composer explores instrumental combinations as though to find the ideal vocabulary for mellow melodiousness, playful, light scampering hunour, formal ceremony and furious energy. The Second is substantially larger, and breathes in longer statements; it has the feel of a chamber symphony, with a continuous narrative arc, unlike the divertimento character of the 1st. Unlike the previous work, this quintet abounds in gestures and melodies strongly reminiscent of Shostakovich - scarcely unusual in Aho's output. The fleet, virtuosic scherzo, placed second, for instance, with the flautist playing piccolo, recalls any number of Shostakovich's fiendishly exposed woodwind passages. The long first movement accumulates tension and momentum very symphonically, while the slow movement begins as a gentle, nocturnal lament but gradually rises to an intense climax, again with more than a hint of you-know-who, which continues into the shocked, desolate epilogue. Only the finale is lighter in mood, nonchalant and playful and finally exiting quietly, with no great drama. Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet.