- Sonata for 2 Accordions
- Trio for clarinet, viola & piano
- Quintet for clarinet & string quartet
Finnish composer Kalevi Aho has been through several stylistic phases, but there is a thread of Mahlerian sensuousness and expansiveness running through much of his largely atonal music. This is true even of the chamber works heard on this recording, featuring Minnesota Orchestra conductor Osmo Vänskä on clarinet along with several of the orchestra's musicians. Vänskä is certainly a concert-quality clarinetist--who knew? No doubt the biggest novelty here is the "Sonata for two accordions," arranged in 1989 from a still more virtuosic earlier original. Even in this version the writing for the accordionists is quite challenging, but Veli Kujala and Susanne Kujala handle their careening parts. The work exemplifies a neo-classic strain in Aho's writing; each of its two movements consists of a prelude plus a contrapuntal section, passacaglia in the first and fugue in the second. The combination of "Clarinet Quintet" followed by a "Trio for clarinet, viola, and piano" is suggestive of Mozart, who wrote works for the same instruments, but it's hard to hear any relationship with Mozart's pieces here. The "Quintet for clarinet and string quartet," in five movements, is an excellent example of the lushness of Aho's music, impeded not in the least by its lack of reference to tonal hierarchies. The "Trio," the most recent work on the program (from 2006), is a bit more abstract, dealing in part with the shifting relationships between the prominent viola and the rest of the ensemble. Likely a project born of personal enthusiasm on Vänskä's part, this can be recommended for those interested in contemporary chamber music.