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Nordic Spell - Aho, Tómasson, Lindberg / Bezaly, Vänskä

Release Date: 07/26/2005 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1499   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Kalevi AhoHaukur TómassonChristian Lindberg
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly
Conductor:  Osmo VänskäBernhardur WilkinsonChristian Lindberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony OrchestraIceland Symphony OrchestraSwedish Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Flute concertos constitute one of the few media in which it's generally more interesting to listen to contemporary music than to the works of past centuries. In the first place, there really are no masterpieces for the instrument from the classical and romantic periods onward (and that includes Mozart's two works, which are the best of a pretty sad lot). Second, modern composers have an unparalleled range of contrasting styles and instrumental timbres to work with, and these can be used to showcase the flute in ways that offer listeners more than enough contrast and musical interest to sustain a large-scale work. For these reasons, even if she were not an amazingly talented performer, Sharon Bezaly
Read more deserves great credit for inspiring a run of really good, modern music. The three concertos here offer a case in point.

Kalevi Aho's Flute Concerto is a genuine masterpiece from a composer working at the height of his considerable powers. The music fully exploits the virtuoso potential of the solo flute (and then some) while at the same time remaining essentially lyrical, even pastoral in its inspiration. At a bit more than half an hour in length, the piece might well take its place among Aho's symphonies, many of which feature concertante instrumental parts. The opening Adagio is simply gorgeous, and it never feels its 15-minute length. It's also recognizably the work of an artist who has found his personal style, a hallmark of any truly memorable piece of music. In other words, it sounds like Aho first, and a flute concerto second, which is not to disparage the genre at all. The music has focus, and like all of the works on this disc, it's performed to a fare-thee-well by Bezaly and company (in this case, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä).

Icelandic composer Haukur Tómasson's work is more texturally than melodically based, but what textures they are! Try the fourth movement, Scintillante, which is just that, and neatly illustrates exactly why a modern work for flute and orchestra offers so many more timbral possibilities than music of earlier periods. Christian Lindberg strikes me as a composer often more trendy than inspired, and you really don't want to know what the title of this concerto refers to (let's just say that it has something to do with a sad documentary about the seedy nightlife of Brazil), but the music actually is lots of fun. It's one of those eclectic mixes of popular and avant-garde musical styles which, if not particularly original, is very well put together and effectively presented. There's an imaginative part for solo glockenspiel that makes a surprisingly apt partner to Bezaly's flute.

Getting this project together, with recordings taking place in Iceland, Sweden, and Finland, must have been a complex undertaking. BIS's engineers have done a marvelous job ensuring that sound levels and balances remain consistently excellent from one work to the next, and as suggested previously, this disc really ought to be treated as a major contribution both to the repertoire for flute and orchestra as well as to the cause of contemporary music in general. The Aho in particular would make a splendid calling card for any enterprising flutist, and we can only hope that Bezaly receives many invitations to perform it abroad. It's that good, and so is she. [8/29/2005]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Flute by Kalevi Aho
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly (Flute)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; Finland 
Concerto for Flute no 2 by Haukur Tómasson
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly (Flute)
Conductor:  Bernhardur Wilkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Iceland 
Length: 21 Minutes 32 Secs. 
The World of Montuagretta by Christian Lindberg
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly (Flute)
Conductor:  Christian Lindberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 20 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: 2001 - 2002. 
Concerto for Flute by Kalevi Aho
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly (Flute)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; Finland 
Length: 30 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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