in Reviews

Emotionally powerful tailor-made pieces

by Mats Liljeroos

When the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra brings together some of the works that over the years have been dedicated to the orchestra’s long-standing Artistic Director and now Honorary Conductor Juha Kangas, it is obviously going to be a collection of emotionally and expressively powerful and excellent music – pieces tailor-made for the orchestra’s deep-rooted sound and intense music-making.

The disc comes across as a classic progression from darkness to light, beginning with the uncompromisingly compelling ...jäätyivät umpeen levottomat vedet [the restless waters froze solid] (1996) by Kalevi Aho – the first movement from his Chamber Symphony no. 3 – and the sonorously innovative Was there a butterfly? (2013) by Onutė Narbutaitė.

Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Canto V (Into the heart of light) (2011) is typical of his late period, while Erkki Salmenhaara’s Elegia II (1963) and Elegia V (1995) form a gratifyingly contrasting pair: the former in the modernist style typical for its time, the latter in the composer’s late, neo-Romantic idiom.

Musica serena, a 70th-birthday present to Juha Kangas from Pēteris Vasks, is achingly beautiful in its almost Sibelian string textures and concludes the disc with a balm of firm faith and consolation.

DEDICATED TO - works for the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and Juha Kangas

Aho: ...jäätyivät umpeen levottomat vedet 
Narbutaitè: Was there a butterfly?
Salmenhaara: Elegia II; Elegia V 
Rautavaara: Canto V 
Vasks: Musica Serena
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, cond. Juha Kangas

Alba ABCD 414

Dedicated to album has been nominated for Emma Awards (Finland's Grammy) 2017. FMQ reviews on other nominees here.