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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Hermes; Dance Images for Piano, Soprano and Strings; Piano Concerto No. 6
PERFORMER: Juhani Lagerspetz (piano), Camilla Nylund (soprano), Tuija Rantamäki (cello); Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas
Together with her contemporary Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho has given new Finnish writing a truly distinctive place on the contemporary music map: this disc presents four works which are now classics of their genre. Verblendungen, for tape and 35-piece orchestra, was Saariaho’s first professional work, and the broad, sweeping ‘brushstrokes’ which inspired it make an arresting and confident announcement of her presence.


Her first work to use computer techniques was Lichtbogen. Possibly her most frequently played piece, its re-creation in sound of the aurora borealis is still cause for wonder. Avanti give it a brilliantly focused, living performance. A new explosive strength bursts out of the Jove-like Io, for chamber orchestra and live electronics. Stilleben, by contrast, is a somewhat pretentious radiophonic work, a collage of human voices (Kafka in three languages) and assorted environmental sounds.


The music of Mikko Heiniö, for Jove’s messenger Hermes, is many worlds away. His inspiration is drawn, by contrast, largely from the German symphonic and serialist mainstream. He has written many concertos, and he considers Hermes as his sixth for piano; though it falls down a crack somewhere between a fanciful episodic suite for dancing and a concerto proper. Hilary Finch