“Epifania” = JUKKA TIENSSU: Sulci; ERKKI SALMENHAARA: Canzonetta; HELEN TULVE: L’ombre derriere toi; PETERIS VASKS: Epifania; USKO MERILAINEN: Summer Concerto, “Geasseija Niehku” = Ostrobothnian Ch. Orch./ Juha Kangas – Alba

“Epifania” = JUKKA TIENSSU: Sulci; ERKKI SALMENHAARA: Canzonetta; HELEN TULVE: L’ombre derriere toi; PETERIS VASKS: Epifania; USKO MERILAINEN: Summer Concerto, “Geasseija Niehku” – Ostrobothnian Ch. Orch./ Juha Kangas – Alba multichannel SACD ABCD 355, 67:30 [3-1-14][Distr. By Albany] *****:

This spectacular showcase of four world premiere recordings from Finland’s Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra is an awesomely-recorded demonstration of its skills.

The most impressive is Jukka Tiensuu’s Sulci, a brilliant evocation of Bernard Hermann, capturing the insane musical fury of the chase through the snow in Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground. Tossing around spirals and vortices of sound with an enormous solo riff at one point for what sounds like the entire doublebass section, Tiensuu is free with inspiring and transforming echoes of the brilliant Britten of the Frank Bridge Variations and chamber orchestra Bartok too. Schools of radiant, spectrally beautiful harmonics like transparent musical jellyfish lead to silence at the ending which is simultaneously a musical and an impressive audiophile achievement.

The CD takes its name from Peteris Vask’s sheer, shimmering, captivating Epifania, dedicated to Juha Kangas and inspired while walking by the Baltic Sea one summer’s evening. The quiet ten-minute lyric is studded with sudden surges of beauty which the orchestra plays in almost perfect synchronicity, hypnotic in its freedom and spontaneity of its phrasing.

Also on the disc is a lovely piece by the iconic Erkki Salmenhaara, Helen Tulve’s extraordinary L’ombre derrière toi scored for three violas and strings which opens up tremendous vistas of texture and timbre by weaving minimalist patterns, and Usko Merilainen’s 20-minute somber but ultimately hopeful reflections on light and shadow.

Recorded in Snellman Hall in Kokkola, where the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra is based, Alba’s intense sound handles large dynamic ranges without losing quality of sound. Heard on a multi-channel system considerably opens up the already excellent sound. Jouni Kapiainen’s detailed liner notes speak intimately as  from a personal acquaintance with the main participants.

—Laurence Vittes

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