Jörgen Van Rijen / Alain de Rudder

Kalevi Aho: Trombone Concerto; Trumpet Concerto

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The Finnish composer Kalevi Aho may be best known in Western Europe and North America for his symphonies, but he has been a prolific composer of concertos, more than 30 at this writing. There are some, like a Theremin Concerto, with an undeniable fun factor, but this release on Sweden's BIS label, which has promoted Aho's music over the years, makes a good place to start with them. Each is a concerto for brass instrument and orchestra with four movements, with a pair of slower ones each leading into a livelier movement that showcases the instrument in its usual textures. Moreover, the finales have the heaviest weight in both pieces. Yet the two works are quite different in effect. The credit goes partly to Aho's skill in writing for his instruments. Sample the first movement of the Trombone Concerto, where the trombone descends into its delightfully murky lower register with a pleasantly mysterious effect. The finales are brilliant, with the constantly shifting rhythms of the "Capriccioso" of the Concerto for Trumpet and Symphonic Wind Orchestra leading to a calmer conclusion, a special pleasure. The Trombone Concerto was composed for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's Jörgen van Rijen, who plays it with assurance, and really, it would be hard to improve on these performances. Conductor Martyn Brabbins, leading the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, is a specialist in this kind of score and provides great clarity; trumpeter Alain de Rudder is that orchestra's principal trumpet. Highly recommended.

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