SALONEN: Homunculus for String Quartet. LIGETI: String Quartet No. 1. Métamorphoses Nocturnes. BRITTEN: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94.
Kamus Quartet
ALBA SACD 409 TT: 62:00
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PORRA: Kohta (2016). Domino Suite (2017). En†ropia, concerto for electronic bass (2015), Kohta (instrumental version).
BIS SACD 2305 TT: 83:18
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ERIK FORDELL: Folksongs and other music
Various performers.
ALBA SACD 404 TT: 77 min.

About a year ago this site praised a new recording by the Kamus Quartet of works of Sibelius, Kaipainen and Tiensiiu (REVIEW). This fine Nordic quartet now has another superb release, this one featuring the premiere recording of Esa-PekkaSalonen's Homunculus This 14-minute work composed in 2007 was inspired by the moment long before birth , the starting point of life when all life is miniature. Salonen is am amazing composer: several years ago this site praised his extraordinary piano concerto (REVIEW). Homunculus is a primitive work in every way. Britten's Quartet No. 3, written immediately after the opera Death in Venice, is a somber, lengthy (26 min.) five-movement work ending with a passacaglia in which the instruments imitate church bells. This is a tragic work. still more accessible than the other two works. Ligeti's Quartet No. 1, an early work written 1953-1954, is a journey through dissonance and shows the influence of Bartók. The Kamus Quartet plays all of this difficult music expertly, and their usually dissonant sounds have been well captured by the engineers in these recordings made in St. Catherine's Church, Larjaa September 2016.

Finnish-Swedish composer Erik Fritiof Fordell(1917 - 1981) is virtually unknown today outside of his native land. A musician, conductor and piano teacher, he composed profusely, symphonic, concertos, songs and music for chorus. He wrote 44 symphonies, but virtually none of his music has been recorded. This new SACD is the first major release of any of his music, and it contains a wide selection of his lighter works many based on folk tunes. We have orchestral pieces, piano solos, solo voice with orchestra and piano, and chorus. . There are 27 short tracks. Performances feature the Ostrobothian Cghamber Orchestra, Aglepta Choir and many vocal and instrumental soloists, all of whom seem devoted to Fordelli. Recordings were made in 2014 in Snellman Hall, Kokkola, and engineers have captured a very natural , if not particularly "surround" sonic picture. Detailed program notes are provided, but no texts or translations.

Finnish composer Lauri Porra (b. 1977) is on the cutting edge of contemporary music, power metal, avan†-guarde jazz and rock, as well as "classical." His primary instrument is the electric bass, and his concerto for that instrument is featured on this new BIS recording. It is a most unusual four movement work with the soloist surrounded by a wide variety of unusual "musical" sounds. The sound of the electric bass has been electronically modified/-you will experience unusual sounds indeed. The disk opens with Kohta, a Finnish rap piece with text by Henri Pulkkinen "rapped" by Paperrt T, who is Finland's best-known rapper. I have no idea what it represents; this is not explained in program notes. The SACD ends with an orchestral version of the same piece. There are many unusual "musical" sounds on this recording, and all have been captured in multi-channel sound in this recording made early last year in Finland's Sibelius Hall. Incidentally, Porra is the great-grandson of Jean Sibelius. It is intriguing what the great Finnish composer would have thought of this! Is he turning in his grave, or perhaps is he smiling? An intriguing SACD, but skip track one.

R.E.B. (March 2018)

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