RÄIHÄLÄ: Peat, Smoke & Seaweed Storm
Barlinnie Nine;* Soliloque 2: La tornade;** Rautasade; Aflao Highway;*** Ardbeg **Jukka Harju (horn); ***Matilda Kärkäinen (piano); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. *Sakari Oramo, Dima Slobodeniuk
Alba ABCD 367
Osmo Tapio Räihälä (b. 1964) is a master of the modern orchestra. Barlinnie Nine (1999, rev. 2005) is, Räihälä’s booklet notes explain, “a musical portrait of the footballer Duncan Fergusson”, but he sells himself short: it’s a quixotic symphonic poem, which switches swiftly and easily between stark contrasts of power and whimsy. Rautasade (Iron Rain, 2008) doesn’t sound like Sibelius, but it’s nature-painting inspired by a similarly implacable landscape; the rising waves of power arising from the pointilliste slower sections of the music show an impressive control of energy.
The third orchestral work here is Ardbeg (2003), inspired by that Hebridean island and its eponymous whisky; it’s another cross-country ramble, concerned more with the detail of the surrounding vistas than any ultimate goal, but even as it takes its time to unfold, its casual strength, flaring up as unpredictably as coastal weather, holds the interest.
The two solo instrumental fillers, for horn and for piano, show the same cussed, slightly overstated sense of humour that is found in Räihälä’s booklet text.