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Matvejeff: Ad astra & Cello Concerto – Linkola: Piano Concerto No. 1

Ville Matvejeff, cello
Jukka Linkola, piano
Turun Filharmoninen Orkesteri
Dima Slobodeniuok

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Where many composers are wary of revealing the detailed programmes behind their works, Jukka Linkola (b1955) must be unique in providing a fictional scenario for his First Piano Concerto, The Masquerade (2011). Indeed, his booklet-note for Alba’s release reads like a short story, complete with happy-ever-after ending.

The Masquerade is perhaps best thought of as a 42-minute symphonic poem in five movements requiring a virtuoso solo pianist (who features prominently in Linkola’s story). In style it is an extension of the concerto tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as exemplified by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Selim Palmgren, without the self-conscious postmodernism of Iiro Rantala’s Concerto (Ondine). Those familiar with Linkola’s other concertos may be taken aback by the music’s sumptuousness of scale, texture and imagery.

Ville Matvejeff (b1986) is also not shy about revealing his sources. Ad astra (2008 09) was inspired by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting of the same name (not reproduced on the cover or in the booklet; the Hubble Telescope photo does not really compensate). The music charts an appealing course from darkness to light in an effective concert opener. His single-span Cello Concerto Crossroads (2009) is a tribute to heavy metal rock music (its subtitle is ‘Fantasy in a heavy style’). The idea is not new, as Matvejeff concedes – Friedrich Gulda got there three decades earlier – but Matvejeff follows a different course. The performances are outstanding all round: vivid playing of three attractive works, rendered in excellent sound. Recommended especially for those who think they are afraid of contemporary music.

Track list

1.Ad Astra13:07
2.Concert for Cello and Orchestra "Crossroads": Fantasy in a heavy style15:35
3.Concert for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 "The Masquerade": 1. The evening in the castle14:01
4.Concert for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 "The Masquerade": 2. The vaudeville and a sad clown8:22
5.Concert for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 "The Masquerade": 3. The mirror of the stream5:38
6.Concert for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 "The Masquerade": 4. An old sailor and a dancing marionette10:39
7.Concert for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 "The Masquerade": 5. The ball3:20

Album info

Original Release Date: October 1, 2014
Discs: 1
Label: Alba