Classical CD Reviews

KIMMO HAKOLA: Guitar Concerto; TOSHIO HOSOKAWA: Voyage IX, Awakening; Blossoming II, for Ch. Orch. – Timo Korhonen, guitar/ Oulu Sym. Orch. /Santtu-Matias Rouvali – Ondine

Good performances and interesting music make for a well -pent hour.

Published on August 27, 2013

KIMMO HAKOLA: Guitar Concerto; TOSHIO HOSOKAWA: Voyage IX, Awakening; Blossoming II for Chamber Orchestra – Timo Korhonen, guitar/ Oulu Sym. Orch. /Santtu-Matias Rouvali – Ondine ODE1219-2, 64:30 [Dist. by Naxos] (5/28/13) ****:

Every so often you stumble on a disc with music and performances that catch your attention in ways unexpected. Hakola and Hosokawa Guitar Concertos is such a disc. It offers guitar concertos from a Finnish and a Japanese composer that are refreshing and exuberantly played by guitarist Timo Korhonen and and the Finnish Oulu Symphony Orchestra.

The first work is the Hakola Guitar Concerto, composed in 2008. It reminds me in is first movement of the compositions of the young Leonard Bernstein. Lots of dynamics and pulsing syncopations, with absolutely near-flawless playing by soloist Korhonen. Even the second slow movement is passionate and convincing.

The Hosokawa piece, Voyage IX, Awakening for guitar, strings and percussion is also a showpiece, but of a different kind. Moody and contemplative, it has a more oriental sound than the Hakola. The composer says the piece represents a pond, with the guitar as a lotus flower, and the strings representing the water. Its an absorbing composition, with layer upon layer of orchestral textures that are dreamlike and satisfying.

The disc concludes with the Hosokawa Blossoming II, composed in 2011 for chamber orchestra.This is another programmatic piece centered on the lotus blossom.The composer represents the awakening of the flower as the rebirth of self. More dissonant than Voyage IX, the work is an interesting listen.

The recording is first rate, with the dynamics of the guitar and percussion faithfully recorded in Finland. The instruments positions are sharply etched, and there is no harshness to the recording.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped this disc in my CD player, but the result was a pleasing musical and aural experience.

—Mel Martin

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