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Kokkonen: Symphonies 1 & 2 / Oramo, Finnish Radio Symphony

Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1129   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Joonas Kokkonen
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Joonas Kokkonen is considered "Finland's most significant composer after Sibelius" (American Record Guide). However, he still awaits discovery among many lovers of accessible contemporary music. Sakari Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, unrivaled champions of Finnish late 20th-century music, have taken up this task with a complete Kokkonen symphonies cycle: The benchmark first volume (ODE 1098-2) was unanimously hailed by the press as a "must-have disc". On this new release, they perform the first two symphonies, coupled with Opus sonorum for orchestra. Written in the years following Sibelius's death in 1957, these masterpieces reveal Kokkonen's affinity with the music of J.S. Bach and his full exploration Read more of expressive tonal colours.

"...Both are tautly argued works, compressing four movements into 20-minute spans that Sakari Oramo plots with precision. After completing the anguished Second Symphony in 1961, Kokkonen developed a more expressive, almost neoromantic style. The seeds of that can be heard in Opus Sonorum from 1964, which is symphonic in outline if not in its nine-minute scale, and uses the musical letters of Jean Sibelius's name as one of its motifs." - Andrew Clements, The Guardian, London, 2009

"For Finnish conductor, Sakari Oramo, a man with a yen for reviving neglected composers, Joonas Kokkonen is an important figure. He's the 'missing link' between the great Jean Sibelius and a new generation of Finnish composers such as Magnus Lindberg." -- Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph, February 11, 2009
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 by Joonas Kokkonen
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958-1960; Finland 
Symphony no 2 by Joonas Kokkonen
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960-1961; Finland 
Opus Sonorum by Joonas Kokkonen
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; Finland 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 1: IV. Adagio

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Chaotic Post-Sibelius Finnish Music June 6, 2017 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Joonas Kokkonen (1921-1996) was a 20th century Finnish composer of some merit, although obviously faced with the problem of following in the footsteps of Jean Sibelius. This Ondine recording was my first exposure to Kokkonen's music, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Symphonies # 1 and 2 are both quite short, each spanning only about 21 minutes. However, there is plenty of drama packed into each symphony, and by that I mean tension and conflict produced by liberal doses of dissonance and piquant string writing interspersed with some notably aggressive brass and wind statements. This 'modern' approach to Scandinavian classical music departs so noticeably from the familiar glories of Sibelius, Grieg, and Nielsen (among others) that the challenge confronting the listener (especially the first time listener) can only be termed daunting. Kokkonen's final work on this disk is a composition entitled Opus sonorum, which deletes percussion, but still produces an intense, full-bodied sound centered around the excellent brass section of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Sakari Oramo's orchestral forces give a fine account of themselves in this enigmatic program, but I would not be completely honest if I said this music fully measures up to the standards of Sibelius or even Rautavaara. It simply seems to lack that extra something; perhaps it's the extensive use of dissonant passages, perhaps it's the way the themes are developed and exploited. Whatever the case, I felt this is music that ranks a step below the best of the great Nordic composers. An interesting program, to be sure, but one that probably won't have you coming back to time after time." Report Abuse
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