Monday 28 May 2012

A Trombone Concerto from Finland’s Kalevi Aho

I always try to hear any new work by Finland’s Kalevi Aho but sadly I missed the premiere of his Percussion Concerto broadcast recently by the BBC.

Thankfully I managed to record BBC Radio 3’s broadcast of the UK premiere of his Trombone Concerto to listen to later.

As always with Aho, the writing for the solo instrument is at the service of the work as a whole and not merely virtuoso display.  Yet what virtuosity there was from trombonist Jorgen van Rijen. From the moment the trombone rises quietly from the orchestra there are sounds that are almost ancient and primitive. Yet Aho also brings a warmth to his melodic writing for the solo instrument.

The ancient feel to the music has a ritualistic feel in the final movement, with percussion providing rhythmic support. The way Aho blends strange trombone sounds with the other instruments of the orchestra is truly inspired.

Alexander Vedernikov and the BBC Symphony Orchestra provided excellent support in this concert that also included Shostakovich and Sibelius. Alexander Vedernikov, formerly Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, has recently had a live recording of Rimsky Korsakov’s opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh issued by Naxos which I will feature in a future blog.

It must be difficult for BIS Records to keep up with recording Aho’s works given how prolific he is, but I do hope that they will soon record both the Percussion Concerto and this new Trombone Concerto, not to mention his recent Symphony No.15.

We should be grateful for what BIS Records have done to promote Aho’s music, but I do hope that they will soon complete the recordings of all his symphonies to date with recordings of numbers five and six.

With the constant flow of such fine works, surely Kalevi Aho must rank as one of the world’s greatest living composers.

See also:

Why does Finland continue to produce so many fine composers?

Marvellously played Chamber Symphonies from Kalevi Aho 



  1. I am also waiting patiently for the BIS completion of the Aho symphony series. The max pommer 5th does much to whet the appetite.

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