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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Triple Concerto; Nonet No. 1; Nonet No. 2; Petite Suite; Frogs Dancing on Water Lilies
PERFORMER: Pekka Kuusisto, Jaakko Kuusisto, Elisabeth Batiashvili (violin), Martti Rousi (cello); Tapiola Sinfonietta/Olli Mustonen
The Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen has made a name for himself as a gifted and engaging player. On the keyboard he commands a splendid technique and considerable artistry, marred only by occasional moments of affectation or attention-seeking point-making. All the music on this CD is recent, having been written between 1995 and 2000. The booklet annotator tells us that Mustonen’s music has been called ‘neo-Baroque and neo-Classical and minimalist – styles focusing on discipline, clarity, repetition and symmetry’. His Triple Concerto for three violins and orchestra comes from 1998 and is a neo-Baroque pastiche. There is a strong element of pastiche, too, in the Nonet No. 1 (dedicated to Steven Isserlis), whose scherzo has a Mendelssohnian delicacy (even if one tires of the repeated ostinato rhythm of the finale). The same goes for the Petite Suite for cello and strings which has something of the naturalness and charm of Gunnar de Frumerie’s Pastoral Suite. It is all strangely likeable: Mustonen does not have a strongly distinctive voice or a wide repertoire of musical devices, but the directness and simplicity of his language betokens a certain courage. He does possess a natural melodic talent and the fine players serve him well. Robert Layton