To date, Kalevi Aho has composed sixteen symphonies and twenty-eight concertos, several operas and a large number of chamber works – a rate of production which is all the more impressive considering the complexity and originality displayed by each new work. On this latest in a long series of BIS releases with Aho’s music, two of his most recent works are performed by the musicians of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra and its artistic director John Storgårds have collaborated with the composer on several projects, and the Concerto for Soprano Saxophone is a commission from the orchestra, at the suggestion of the Swedish saxophonist Anders Paulsson. A specialist on the soprano saxophone, Paulsson also demonstrated the instrument’s capabilities to Aho as part of his preparations.
The Quintet for Winds and Piano was composed just over a year before the concerto and is here heard in a performance by the pianist Väinö Jalkanen, and woodwind players from the Lapland orchestra. The reason for the unusual combination of instruments is that the work was intended as a companion piece to Mozart’s quintet for the same forces. Closing the disc, finally, is the almost 10-minute long Solo I for violin, the first in the composer’s series of virtuosic solo pieces for each of the instruments of the orchestra. It was composed in 1975 and receives a performance from another longtime Aho collaborator, the violinist Jaakko Kuusisto, who has previously performed the solo part of the composer’s Symphony No.3 for violin and orchestra.