Aho: Concerto for Horn and Chamber Orchestra; Acht Jahreszeiten (Eight Seasons) – Concerto for Theremin and Chamber Orchestra

Reviewed on Mon 27 Oct, 2014

There can’t be many concertos for the theremin, an electronic musical-saw impressionist operated by contactless hands and fed to a loudspeaker. The creatively unstoppable Finn that is Kalevi Aho (born 1949) typically writes on an expansive scale. The opening sections of the 31-minute Eight Seasons – an octet of events from any year with a bias towards the autumnal and wintery – are eerie and other-worldly, strangely compelling, enchanted as sound, the theremin first among equals, ranging from a sci-fi soundtrack to illusions of the human voice. Much to be engaged and touched by, but the overall appeal seems limited. The Horn Concerto, similarly generous in length, opens whimsically at the ‘Beginning’ (a very good place to start) and, as so often with Aho, one admires his imagination, the unpredictability of it all, but doubts do remain as to the music’s staying power. Marvellous performances and superb sound, but a question mark hovers.
–Colin Anderson