Music Web International, May 2013: "Fine music and musicianship, faithfully caught; what BIS does best"; International Record Review, June 2013”All the performances are outstanding, as is the recorded sound.”
For those who have followed the career of Kalevi Aho (for instance through the more than 20 discs of his music released on BIS), it will be clear that he enjoys large-scale projects.
One such project has been his ‘oboe project’, composing works in every genre for the instrument. These plans can be said to have begun soon after the Sonata for oboe and piano included here, composed in 1984–85 and thus possibly the first such work for this combination by a Finnish composer.
The project received fresh impetus in 2002, when Aho encountered the eminent Belgian oboist Piet Van Bockstal. As a result he composed his Oboe Concerto, premièred by Bockstal in 2008, a work in which Aho wanted to explore fresh directions for tonality as well as creating orchestral music with a more powerful rhythmic pulse and a richer sound-world.
As a result the Concerto employs scales from Arabic classical music as a melodic basis in some of its five movements, and also features the Arabic darabuka and African djembe (two types of goblet drum). Although there is no oboe included in the orchestral score, Aho also specifies the use of two of its rarely heard relatives: the oboe d’amore and the heckelphone (a baritone oboe). Three years after the Concerto, the composer returned to his oboe project, and completed it by writing a solo piece for the instrument.
Dedicated to Piet Van Bockstal, the 10-minute Solo IX also forms part of another of Aho’s projects – a series of large-scale, virtuosic solo works for various instruments. Together with a number of chamber works for different constellations, this disc sums up Kalevi Aho’s oboe project, in expert performances by Piet Van Bockstal, supported by the pianist Yutaka Oya, and by Martyn Brabbins conducting the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, for which Aho has composed so much of his music.