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Pulkkis: Enchanted Garden, Etc / Kuusisto, Bezaly, Et Al

Release Date: 06/26/2007 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1339   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Uljas Voitto Pulkkis
Performer:  Jaakko KuusistoSharon Bezaly
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
SuperAudio CD:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A young composer couldn't ask for a more impressive debut album than this one. On evidence here, Uljas Pulkkis (b. 1975), yet another impressive talent from Finland, is still finding his individual voice, but there's no doubt at all that he has one. Enchanted Garden, for violin and orchestra, is a study in texture; but unlike so much music by today's avant-garde, Pulkkis isn't afraid to intermingle extremely consonant, luscious harmony with the work's more exploratory timbres. The result is consistently ear-catching in its juxtaposition of diverse elements, and though you'd think it wouldn't hang together particularly well, somehow it does. Jaakko Kuusisto does an excellent job with a solo that as
Read more often as not must embroider the orchestral part rather than stand out front and center.

The Flute Concerto is written in a very different idiom but represents an equally intriguing blend of theoretically disparate styles. Think of, say, Hindemith or Frank Martin in the orchestral part, mixed with the exoticism of Rimsky-Korsakov (Antar or Scheherazade) in the highly ornate solo writing. I only wish that the finale would have used more distinctive thematic material; but as you can well imagine Sharon Bezaly (for whom the concerto was written) plays the whole work perfectly, with glowing tone and an obvious delight in the broad range of sounds that Pulkkis asks her to make (including quarter-tones in the central slow movement, and plenty of flutter-tonguing).

Symphonic Dalí consists of three "paintings" for orchestra: The Colossus of Rhodes, Shades of Night Descending, and Dawn. The music is opulent, entirely tonal, and glittering. The booklet notes point out the influence of Respighi, and you can certainly hear in the last movement Pulkkis' take on "The Birth of Venus" from the Three Botticelli Pictures. If I have any criticism at all it might be that there's insufficient contrast between the second and third movements (at least until the sun comes up in the latter), and that Pulkkis still tends to orchestrate in blocks, vertically rather than linearly, risking a certain timbral monotony despite his extremely colorful overall palette.

Still, the music is very appealing, demonstrating the ever-present possibility of achieving originality within a relatively traditional language. All it takes is talent, and that Pulkkis evidently has in abudance. The performances, as suggested above, are uniformly stunning, and so is the SACD sound in all formats. Susanna Mälkki leads the Stavanger Symphony in this unfamiliar music with confidence, and the players respond in kind. As I said at the opening of this review, for a young composer this makes the ideal "calling card", and this is just as valid an observation for listeners interested in getting to know some strikingly good new music.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
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Works on This Recording

Enchanted Garden by Uljas Voitto Pulkkis
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000 
Concerto for Flute by Uljas Voitto Pulkkis
Performer:  Sharon Bezaly (Flute)
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001 
Symphonic Dali by Uljas Voitto Pulkkis
Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002 

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