31 JULY 2023


The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.

The album cover may not always appear.
Aho, K.: Violin Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 2; Vähälä/Roozeman/Kymi Sinfta [BIS (Hybrid)]
Kalevi Aho (b. 1949) was born in Forssa, Finland, some 70 miles northwest of Helsinki, and has become one of his country's foremost composers. By way of background, he began violin lessons in his home town at age ten. Then the year 1968 saw him study that instrument as well as composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Incidentally, one of his teachers was renowned composer and fellow countryman, Einojuhani Rautavaara (see 31 July 2022).

After graduation (1971), Kalevo continued his musical education in Berlin and had Boris Blacher (1903-1975) as one of his instructors. Then he returned to Finland, and taught music at Helsinki University (1974-88) as well as the Sibelius Academy (1988-93).

Subsequently, Aho has become a freelance composer, who's been closely associated with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and established himself as a prominent figure in Finnish musical circles. He's also written a large body of works across all genres, and we get two of them in the concerto category with this recent hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.1), album from BIS. These are the only readily available versions of them currently on disc.

The program begins with his Violin Concerto No. 2 of 2015, which was written for our soloist on a commission from the orchestra here. With the composer himself being an accomplished violinist, it's a virtuosic, three-movement tour de force, and the first "Allegro (Fast)" [T-1] gets things off to a lively start.

This has an energetic orchestral introduction based on an agitated, extended thematic thought (AE) [00:01] that the soloist soon picks up on [01:37]. Then there's a tender spot having on a AE-derived, contemplative idea (AC) [02:17], which bridges into some excited moments [04:04].

They wane thereby calling up demanding cadenza passages [05:55] with reminders of AC [beginning at 07:20] that soon receive some subtle orchestral support [07:27]. The latter then builds in hushed fashion to some virtuosic flourishes from the soloist [08:28}, as well as the orchestra's forceful return [08:49]. However, the foregoing gives way to a flighty episode for all [09:57]. This has recurring drum strokes [beginning at 10:46], and calls up increasingly dynamic, martial passages that end the movement abruptly.

The violin is more predominant in the middle, "Adagio (Slow)" one [T-2]. It has a somber, drumroll-introduced opening [00:00], where the soloist plays an AC-reminiscent, songful melody (SM) [00:03]. SM powers a highly moving episode that builds to a stirring climax, which dissipates into nothingness.

Then Aho serves up a "Vivace, leggerio (Fast and nimble)" concluding movement [T-3]. This is a frolicsome utterance, where the violin and orchestra dance about to an SM-derived, mercurial number heard at the outset [00:01]. It's awash with virtuosic moments for the soloist, and has a "Prestissimo (Very quick)" [07:05] final display of fiddle fireworks that ends the work expeditiously.

This release is filled out with the composer's Cello Concerto No. 2 of 2013, which has five attacca-like movements, the first being a Berceuse [T-4]. It starts with a melancholy orchestral introduction [00:01], where the soloist soon enters, playing a sorrowful song (SS) [00:59]. Then SS is the subject of emotionally moving passages.

These bridge into a "Presto (Very fast)", antic second movement [T-5] that begins with cheeky clarinet moments [00:00] followed by mischievous cello ones [00:19]. Then this music becomes increasingly agitated and wanes [beginning at 03:23], only to have the soloist invoke some vivacious thoughts [04:18].

However, they soon ebb into an "Adagio (Slow)" third movement [T-6], where the cello [00:00] takes center stage for this cadenza-like caper. It's an impassioned piece that's a real challenge and adjures an "Allegretto (Lively)", coltish, fourth one [T-7].

The latter morphs into the closing fifth movement marked Epilogue (Ending) [T-8]. This has a commanding, "Adagietto (Slow)" preface [00:00], where the cello [00:08] recalls the work's opening along with arresting, tuned-percussion-laced passages [02:22]. Then shimmering moments call up a cadenza [03:36] with bizarre string effects. This leads to a "Presto (Very fast)" coda for everyone [05:30], which is somewhat reminiscent of the second movement [T-5] and ends things in a blaze of virtuosity.

Finnish violinist Elina Vähälä (b. 1975) delivers a dazzling account of the first work, and the same can be said for Finnish-Dutch cellist Jonathan Roozeman (b. 1997) in regard to the second. Both artists receive strong support from the Kymi Sinfonietta (KS) under its artistic advisor, Estonian conductor Olari Elts (b. 1971). Incidentally, the KS is made up of musicians from the Kotka City Orchestra, based around 80 miles east-northeast of Helsinki, and the Kouvoula City one, some 30 miles north of there.

These recordings were done during 24-26 April 2019 [T-1 thru 3] and 2-4 December 2021 [T-4 thru 8] at Kuusankoski Hall located in Kouvula. Each of the stereo tracks present consistently generous sonic images with the soloists centered and beautifully captured as well as balanced against the KS.

The multichannel one will give those with home theater systems an orchestra center seat. But no matter how you play it, the instrumental timbre is characterized by pleasant highs, a rich midrange, and a clean low end that goes down to rock bottom, all of which earn this release an "Audiophile" rating.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y230731)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Evocations (see Téllez, F.); Mann/Kuo/Guggenheim/CanStuSym [Centre]
With this new Centrediscs release, we welcome Colombian-Canadian composer Felipe Téllez to these pages. By way of background, Felipe was born as well as raised in Bogotá, and then went on to get three music-related degrees. The first was his Bachelors from the University of the Andes in his hometown (2013), and then a Masters at the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain (2015). After that he earned a Doctorate from the University of Toronto (2021), where he now teaches.

Téllez has written a significant amount of music for films as well as the concert hall, and five orchestral selections in the latter category are presented here. These are the only readily available versions of them currently on disc.

The program begins with his "Suite Concertante for Oboe d'Amore" (Op. 2, No.1; 2014, rev. 2022), which is in five short movements of Baroque persuasion. It starts with a march-like Overture [T-1], having tuneful passages for the soloist. This ends with a chord that summons up a jolly Allemande [T-2], succeeded by a regal Courante [T-3]. Then there's a rather pensive Sarabande [T-4], but things become much more lively with the concluding Gigue [T-5]. It has some agile moments for our soloist as well as the other winds, and ends things in jocund fashion.

Then there are a couple of intermezzo-like pieces for strings, respectively titled "Lovers at the Altar" (Opus 2, No. 2) [T-6] and "Impromptu for Strings" (Op. 2, No. 4) [T-8]. The former, which was written for a friend's wedding, is a delicate offering. However, the other one sounds a bit wistful and reputedly shows off the orchestra's leading bass player.

They lie on either side of Felipe's "Romanza for Violin and Orchestra" (Op. 2, No. 3) [T-7] that takes the form of a heartfelt ode to love. Then there's a selection called "Corita (Maiden)" (Op. 2, No. 5) [T-9], which is an orchestration of a guitar piece by one of the composer's music teachers in Bogotá, and brings this release to a comely conclusion.

These authoritative performances are by the Canadian Studio Symphony, which was formed last year by Téllez along with its conductor, Argentine-born, Canada-resident Lorenzo Guggenheim (b. 1919) and the orchestra's concertmaster, Canadian violinist Lynn Kuo. She gives a superb account of "Romanza...") [T-7], and Canadian oboist Ron Cohen Mann makes a strong case for "Suite Concertante..." [T-1 thru 5].

The recordings were made on 31 May 2022 at Revolution Recording and present a modest sonic image in studio surroundings. Both soloists are well captured, and the overall instrumental timbre is pleasing.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P230730)


The album cover may not always appear.
String Quartets from Galacia (see Adalid, M. del; Arriola, J. & Durán, J.); Cuarteto Novecento [Brilliant]
This recent release from the adventurous Brilliant Classics label gives us first recordings of three string quartet rarities written by composers from Galicia, which is one of the autonomous communities of Spain that's located in the northwestern-most tip of the Iberian Peninsula and lies along the Atlantic Ocean just above Portugal's northern border.

The program begins with one by Marcial del Adalid (aka Marcial del Adalid y Gurréa; 1826-1881), who was born in the Galician city of A Coruña, some 300 miles northwest of Madrid. He then went on to studied music in London as well as Paris, and would leave some 200 works, most of which are in the vocal genre.

His sole String Quartet in G Major (Op. 16; 1872, rev. 1879-80) has four movements, the first being an "Allegro (Fast)", sonata-form one [T-1]. Its exposition begins with a playful tune (P1) [00:00] that's followed by a related, laidback idea (L2) [00:35], after which all of the foregoing is repeated [01:31]. Then P1 initiates a short development [03:01] and literal recapitulation [03:54] with a final "So there!" cadence [05:28].

The subsequent "Andante quasi adagio (Flowing somewhat slowly) [T-2] marked one is a comely, ternary, A-B-A serenade, whose "A"s [00:00 & 03:48] are based on a songful version of L2 heard at the outset. They surround a sighing "B" [01:51-03:47] and end the movement full circle.

This is followed by a structurally similar Minuetto (Minuet)" [T-3] featuring a fetching, dance-like version of L2 [00:00]. And after that, the composer serves up a rondoesque finale [T-4], which has a "Moderato molto, quasi andante (Very moderate, somewhat slow)" introduction [00:01] hinting at an L2-related, recurring theme (RT) soon to come.

Then there's the "Allegro Assai (Very fast)" main body of this movement. It starts with RT [00:54], which is a delightful, scampering ditty, whose reappearances call up three related, variational segments. These are respectively, pleading [01:45], mischievous [02:35] and lullaby-like [03:59]. Then another RT [04:35] brings the work to a smiling conclusion.

Our next composer is José Arriola (aka José "Pepito" Rodriguez Carballeira; 1896-1954), who was born in Betanzos, some 10 miles southeast of A Coruña. He was a wunderkind, and the Queen Regent of Spain, María Christina (1858-1929), gave the lad a scholarship, which allowed him to study in Germany with Richard Strauss (1864-1949).

Arriola became a remarkable pianist as well as a master violinist and spent much of his time concertizing. However, he had some difficulties in Berlin towards the end of World War II (1939-45), which resulted in his return to Spain during 1946.

Pepito's String Quartet in C Major (1949) was dedicated to the memory of his mom and shows Richard's influence. The first of its four movements [T-5] begins with a contemplative, "Andante molto (Very flowing)" introduction [00:01]. It's soon followed by a jaunty thematic nexus [00:50] that initiates the "Allegro non troppo (Fast, but not too quickly)" marked remainder of the movement. This is an engaging and for the most part through-composed effort, which ends with a precipitous, pizzicato plunk [06:29].

Then there's a "Moderato (Moderate)" second movement [T-6] that's a lengthy, winsome serenade based on an opening songful number [00:01]. But the pace quickens with the scherzo-like, "Allegro giocoso (Fast and playful)" third [T-7]. It has mercurial outer sections [00:01 & 02:30] that surround a whirling one [01:11-02:29] and end things full circle.

The finale [T-8] begins with a "Ciaconna (Chaconne)" having a melancholy, ostinato (MO) [00:01], which parents an invigorating "Fuga (Fugue)" [06:35]. Then the latter is followed by a brief pause and an MO-based, "Andante molto (Very slow)" afterthought [09:10] concludes the quartet reverently.

This novel release closes with music by Juan Durán (b. 1960), who hails from Vigo, some 90 miles south-southwest of Betanzos. A prize-winning composer, he's written over a hundred works, many of which are based on Galician folk material.

The selection here is his String Quartet of 2007. In three movements, the first is a "Pasodoble" [T-9] based on an initial, lively Hibernian tune (LH) [00:00] that cavorts about. Then the foregoing wanes into a deceptive pause followed by a subdued version of LH (LS) [05:17]. However, LS becomes increasingly agitated and ends the movement with a proud coda [05:37].

Next there's one marked "Blues" [T-10], which is as advertised. It's the longest here and features an LH-derived, plaintive idea (LP) [00:01]. LP is the subject of a fervent contemplation with an ethereal ending [07:51] that simply fades away.

Subsequently, Juan seemingly pays homage to Brazil with a frenetic "Samba" [T-11]. It has LH-reminiscent, rowdy, opening passages, which are a recurring feature of this rondo-like movement. The music here is a spirited romp, which ends the quartet and disc with a macho coda [03:47].

These performances are by the Cuarteto Novecento, which was formed in 2016 by violinists Ildikó Oltai and Irina Gruia, along with violist Ioana Ciobotaru as well as cellist Millán Abeledo. They're all members of the Real Filharmonía de Galicia based in Santiago de Compostela, some 50 miles north of Vigo, and deliver technically accomplished, enthusiastic accounts of all three works.

The recordings were made during September 2019 in the Auditorio de Galicia. They present a wide sonic image with the instruments placed in usual quartet fashion of increasing size from left to right. The artists are beautifully captured as well as balanced against one another, and the string tone is about as good as it gets on conventional discs. What's more, these performances took place in a magnificent venue that enriches this music all the more.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y230729)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Weigl, K.I.: Piano Concerto Op. 21, Rhapsody for String Orchestra, Three Songs...; Triendl/Johnson/Gaudenz/Jenaer P [CPO]
Here CPO continues their invaluable exploration of Austrian-born-and-trained, Karl Weigl's (1881-1949) music. He's been a CLOFO regular, and previously this adventurous label gave us works dating from his American years (see 30 November 2020). However, this time around they serve up two orchestral selections as well as a vocal one that were written in Austria, these being the only readily available versions of them currently on disc.

Weigl left a large oeuvre across all genres, and his Piano Concerto in F minor (Op. 21; 1931) is one of his most accomplished. Incidentally, the markings given in the album booklet for each of its three movements are wrong, but the correct ones are in the write-up below.

That said, the "Allegro moderato (Moderately fast)" first [T-7] begins with a commanding theme for the orchestra (CT) [00:00], who's soon joined by the piano [01:48]. Then the soloist picks up on CT [02:13], and there's a captivating exploration of it. Here you'll find moments reminiscent of the two Brahms (1833-1897) piano concertos (1858 & 1878-81), after which this movement comes to a rousing conclusion.

The "Andante sostenuto (Slow and sustained)" second [T-8] has a delicate, orchestral preface [00:00] that conjures up a CT-related, romantic melody (CR) played by the soloist [00:48]. Then CR is the subject of a lovely serenade with a sprinkling of virtuosic piano passages.

After that there's an "Allegro molto (Very Fast)", closing movement [T-9], which is a spirited rondo-like romp. It starts with capricious passages for everyone [00:00], soon followed by an animated ditty (AD) spun out by the soloist [00:21]. Then the tutti repeat AD [00:49] that's cause for an examination by all.

Subsequently, AD undergoes several, rambunctious treatments, which range from whimsical [02:35] to antsy [03:53], venatic [05:17] and forceful [05:43]. Then a couple of tension-building pauses [05:58 & 06:04] call up a flighty codatic afterthought [06:06] that brings the work to a sprightly ending.

The Rhapsody for String Orchestra (Op.30; 1931) is a reworking of the composer's String Sextet in D minor (1906; not currently available on disc). It comes off like a continuous, late romantic work that owes a debt to the more sublime orchestral moments in Richard Wagner's (1813-1883) later operas, such as Parsifal (WWV 111; 1877-82).

As done here, this is presented in three adjoining tracks, the first of which [T-4] starts with a "Langsam (Slow)", melancholy fugue based on a wistful idea heard at the outset. It has some "Etwas beliebter (Somewhat busier)" passages and proceeds attacca into a "Lebhaft (Lively)" section [T-5] with a couple of "Maßig (Moderate)" spots.

Then the last of these transitions attacca into a "Sehr langsam (Very slow)" episode [T-6]. This has some "Bewegt und schwungvoll (Moving and energetic)" moments, but eventually brings things to an ethereal conclusion.

This release also includes one of Weigl's vocal works, namely his Drei Gesänge für eine hohe Frauenstimme mit Orchester (Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra) of 1916. These are settings of poems by German historian-writer Ricarda Huch (1864-1947), which probably date from the early 1890s (see the album notes for German and English texts).

The first Heimkehr (Return Home) [T-1] is a pensive number about someone who finds themself back in their native land. However, the mood brightens with the next Hymne (Hymn) [T-2], where there are connotations of a divine resurrection. Then an uplifting Geständnis (Confession) [T-3] brings the work to a glowing conclusion.

The Jenaer Philharmonie based in Jena, some 100 air miles south-southwest of Berlin, under their General Music Director, Swiss conductor Simon Gaudenz, gives a strong account of this music. That said, a big round of applause goes to German pianist Oliver Triendl as well as Norwegian soprano Lina Johnson for their respectively superb renderings of the Concerto and Songs.

These recordings were made 21-22 June 2021 (Rhapsody...) [T-4 thru 6], 28-29 April 2022 (Drei Gesänge...) [T-1 thru 3] and 21-22 June 2022 (Piano Concerto...) [T-7 thru 9] in the Volkshaus Jena concert hall. They project consistently wide sonic images in a spacious venue with the two soloists centered, and convincingly captured as well as highlighted against the orchestra.

The instrumental timbre is characterized by pleasant highs, which are about as good as they get on conventional discs. As for the midrange, it's excellent, while the bass is well defined with no hangover in lower string passages. This release may not be demonstration quality, but the music here will soon have you forgetting any sonic shortcomings.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P230728)