With his eight symphonies and six operas, Aulis Sallinen has made two of the most significant contributions to postwar Finnish music. Outside of Finland, however, Sallinen's name, along with his music, is nearly unknown. Most of the symphonies and operas have yet to be recorded, a situation that CPO is addressing in its series devoted to Sallinen's symphonies with Ari Rasilainen leading the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz. Following the 2002 release of the First and Seventh and the 2005 release of the Eighth is this 2008 release of the Third and Fifth. Both of these works have been recorded only once before: the Third with Okko Kamu leading the Finnish Radio Symphony and the Fifth with James DePreist leading the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. Sallinen's Third is a concise, three-movement work written in a recognizably tonal idiom that heeds the prime directives of symphonic construction: statement, development, and re-statement. Called Washington Mosaics for the city of its premier and for the method of its composition, Sallinen's Fifth is a more expansive and much more unusual work in five movements that forgoes tonality for a more inclusive harmonic style but retains the notion of symphonic development through the evolution of the mosaic-like motifs that function as the themes in all five movements. Rasilainen clearly grasps Sallinen's long lines and taut forms and expresses them in performances of total conviction. Though neither a Finnish nor even a Scandinavian orchestra, the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz still gives Sallinen's symphonies every benefit of their polished professionalism. Anyone interested in post-Sibelius Finnish music is urged to try this disc. CPO's digital sound is full, deep, and clear.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 3|
|Symphony No. 5 ("Washington Mosaics"), Op. 67|