Kalevi Aho Wind Quintets performed with love

This release tells a story — the story of a relationship between composer and performers. Finnish composer Kalevi Aho writes very challenging music. The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (BPWQ) accepted that challenge and performed his Wind Quintet No. 1. In fact, they fell in love with the work, playing it more than 20 times in concert.

It was only natural, then, that the quintet would commission a work from the composer. And Aho obliged, creating a work that was uniquely suited for — and demanding — of the BPWQ. This release features the BPWQ performing the quintet they know so well, and the quintet they commissioned.

Aho’s compositional style doesn’t so much oppose tradition as to just simply ignore it. His 2006 Wind Quintet No. 1 upends several “givens” of the genre. He uses the F horn, rather than the bassoon, as the bass instrument. The oboe often players higher than the flute. And at various points different players perform off-stage, greatly altering the balance and texture of the ensemble.

Aho considered his second quintet a “little symphony.” In it, he greatly expands the parameters and definition of a wind quintet. The work has long, drawn-out lines that require tremendous breath control. At times the flute player switches to piccolo or alto flute; the oboist to cor anglais.

All of these great changes the sound of the ensemble, and Aho takes full advantage of the new sonorities.

The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet perform flawlessly. The first quintet benefits from their intimate knowledge of the work. The second was written for them, and it fits like a glove. The long, sonorous tones of the ensemble are truly beautiful. The connection between composer and performers is strong — and can be heard throughout these two works.

Kalevi Aho: Wind Quintets
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
BIS 2176

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