Ilkka Kuusisto began his career as a jazz pianist at the age of 15, and has since been active in a number of fields, including the theatre, as an organist, a choral conductor and as chief executive of the Finnish National Opera. As a composer he is highly eclectic. Having composed several operas, Kuusisto was invited by the conductor Osmo Vänskä to write a symphony for the Lahti Symphony Orchestra – a work which opens this disc
For his Concertino improvvisando the composer turned to his son, the violinist Pekka Kuusisto, for advice, who in turn suggested a work which included plenty of scope for improvisation.
Closing the programme is a cantata for baritone and orchestra performed by the illustrious Jorma Hynninen. The text (in Finnish) juxtaposes the Bible, the Kalevala and Schopenhauer – but the score goes even further in its generous inclusion of different genres, with pride of place given to an accordion playing popular dance rhythms.
Conducting the Lahti SO in these scores is another Kuusisto: Jaakko Kuusisto, who himself is an acclaimed violinist, as well as a conductor and composer in his own right.