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Einojuhani Rautavaara's Hommage à Zoltán Kodály is an exemplar of the sheer zest and spirit of the Helsinki Strings. Its brooding opening broadens into a clever musical trick that plays on the title. Rautavaara, who wrote this work for the Helsinki Strings in 1981-2 takes, as he wrote, 'H-A-G-A or homage A ... and later another ... D-A-Es-A, or ... koDAly zoltAN.'

About half way through this fourteen minute suite [listen -- track 1, 7:30-8:39], is a sensual but almost dissonant violin solo, which is quickly enveloped by a dancing chorus of strings. The violin keeps reasserting itself, punctuated by rich colouration from the violins and then the violas and cellos. But it's music that ends as it came -- into a nothingness.

The curiously named Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March [listen -- track 2, 0:01-1:28] is a work that was originally in string quartet form but composer Aulis Sallinen transposed it into a chamber orchestra version in the 1980s. It begins with a well known Finnish funeral march, played by a solo violin that sounds as though it is being heard some distance away, which is built upon thematically but which never leaves the stage. Deliberately from Sallinen's perspective, this work fits no particular stylistic form. The colouration and edginess of the work speak for themselves.

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Copyright © 11 December 2005 Greg Barns, Hobart, Australia


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