KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Trombone Concerto, Concerto for Trumpet and Symphonic Wind Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01U056
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: And so it continues, maintaining the same high standards of the preceding entries in the canon of Aho's astonishing series of concerti. What we said of the Timpani Concerto (06T061) applies here: " ... very firmly tonality-based, tailored precisely to the requirements and capabilities of the solo instrument and thus of necessity entirely unlike any of its companion works, and full of character and expression." In the Trombone Concerto (2010) the composer says "I have tried to extend the expressive and virtuosic possibilities of the trombone to the extremes." He has succeeded. The first movement is calm and lyrical, with much singing dialogue between soloist and orchestra. The soloist expands his sonic palette with mutes and through vocal multiphonics, which allows a kind of chorale-like self-accompaniment of intervals; such is Aho's skill in choosing only technical effects that are acoustically native to the instrument that this never sounds like a gimmick, just a natural extension of the trombone's sound. A cadenza leads into a fast, rhythmic scherzo-like movement, enthusiastically propelled by a djembe and two congas, an exciting sound that Aho clearly enjoys using. The slow movement is a subdued, rather sad interlude, out of which the highly energetic finale suddenly erupts. This proceeds like a fairly standard Allegro finale with virtuoso embellishments by the soloist, until the djembe and congas re-enter and introduce a wildly complex compound rhythm, which suddenly gives the music as a whole a feeling of some sort of vigorous dance of some (imaginary but vital and robust) ethnicity outside the Western tradition. The trombone gamely joins in, and this invigorating, if slightly overwhelming bacchanal races to a climax, after which the energy ebbs away in a slow coda. The Trumpet Concerto's first movement has an air of premonitory foreboding, the bright sound of the trumpet weaving a golden melodic thread over the deep orchestral brass. The fast second movement dispels this mood, at first with urgent fanfares, then unexpectedly breaking into lively, swaggering jazz motifs; the trumpet is put through its technical paces here. The following movement is a short intermezzo and cadenza, then the finale begins with a chugging post-minimalist pulse, interrupted by alarums and skirling fanfares which try to usher in a return to the seriousness of countenance of the first movement. A final surprise; the gentle intrusion of a momentary step back in time to the Renaissance, and the soloist brings the work to a muted close. Jörgen van Rijen (trombone), Alain De Rudder (trumpet), Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins.