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By contrast Pehr Henrik Nordgren's Concerto for Strings is a work which unfolds neatly. It begins with a movement entitled Premonitions of bad days [listen -- track 3, 6:26-7:32], a reflective theme that has shades of Bartók about it. Nordgren follows this with the juxtaposition -- Dance away your worries! -- a fleshy piece of almost minimalist rhythm and scoring. And then a return to the melancholy with A belated prayer for achieving fulfilment.

What would a Finnish collection be without the man himself -- Jean Sibelius [listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:47]? Sibelius' suite Rakastava (The Lover), originally written for male choir and reworked at various stages until this string orchestra version appeared in 1912. It is a typically gorgeous Sibelius composition. Lyrical in parts, tender and aching and tinged with a shimmering mystery that is the part and parcel of the Deep North.

The Helsinki Strings' opening to this work is as good as this reviewer has heard. The sweet and warm tone doesn't waver and the second violins, in particular, contrast beautifully with those on the first desk.

Finland's prodigious musical talent is once again on display -- the Helsinki Strings and their directors, Csaba and Géza Szilvay, are a class act [listen -- track 8, 3:43-4:41].

Copyright © 11 December 2005 Greg Barns, Hobart, Australia


Finnish Music for Strings

2564 61976-2 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 63'31" 2005 Warner Classics

Lea Tuuri, violin (Nordgren and Sibelius); Pietari Inkinen, violin (Nordgren); Anna Huttunen, viola (Nordgren); Vera Lindroos, double bass (Nordgren); Csilla Szilvay, cello (Sibelius); The Helsinki Strings; Csaba and Géza Szilvay, conductors

Einojuhani Rautavaara (born 1928): Hommage à Zoltán Kodály; Aulis Sallinen (born 1935): Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March; Pehr Henrik Nordgren (born 1944): Concerto for Strings Op 24 (Premonitions of bad days (Moderato); Dance away your worries! (Allegro con passione); A belated prayer for achieving fulfilment (Moderato)); Jean Sibelius (1865-1957): The Lover Op 14 (The Lover; The Path of the Beloved; Good night - Farewell)



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