ALBUM TITLE: Aho * Fagerlund
WORKS: Aho: Solo V; Bassoon Concerto; Fagerlund: Bassoon Concerto (Mana); Woodlands
PERFORMER: Bram van Sambeek (bassoon); Lahti Symphony Orchestra/ Dima Slobodeniouk, Okko Kamu
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2206
Seventy-six minutes is an awful lot of solo bassoon. So what better tribute to the brilliant young Dutch bassoonist Bram van Sambeek, and to these two composers, that the end result is a truly captivating disc. In his concerto, Mana, and in the extended solo Woodlands, Sebastian Fagerlund (b1972) makes use of quite a few flavoursome and fruity sound effects. None of this is exactly new: composers were putting instruments through all sorts of bizarre sonic invention tests back in the 1960s. What is new, and impressive, is that Fagerlund draws the whole bulging sound palette into coherent musical arguments with momentum and atmosphere in bucketfuls.
The sombre Concerto by the more well-established Kalevi Aho (b1949) is more traditionally symphonic in character, and more preoccupied with the bassoon’s traditional gruff-lyrical character, though the half-sung duet in the solo cadenza was a pleasurable surprise. Bram van Sambeek takes everything in his evidently extensive stride. The agility, conviction, impish humour and searing seriousness all stem from a remarkably rounded musicianship: talent and personality in abundance, but at the same time strongly focused. I’ve a feeling composers will soon be queuing up to write for him.
The recordings are well up to BIS’s usual excellent standards.