Classical CD Reviews
HARRI VUORI: Symphony No.1 (2003); Symphony No.2 (2007) – Hyvinkää Orchestra / Tuomas Pirilä – Toccata Classics
Published on January 26, 2009
Harri Vuori is a name new to me, and new on my radar, too are the Hyvinkää Orchestra and Tuomas Pirilä. Vuori was born in Lahti, destined to be associated with Osmo Vänskä, Sibelius and BIS, in 1957 and has been composer in residence with this orchestra since 1997.
The First Symphony was originally planned in one movement to set it apart from the usual symphonic traditional form. As Vuori explains in his notes for this release, the piece evolved into three movements and he added a “breezy and quirky middle movement” to lighten the work; certainly it seems to me to act as a musical sorbet. The finale makes use of folk rhythms from Karelia. The work is modernist though tonal, with a rich variety of orchestral textures, from transparent delicacy to thundering climaxes, and wonderfully exciting use of percussion.
The very recent Second Symphony was written for Hyvinkää’s 90th anniversary of foundation and premiered by the forces here just over a year ago. The work is sparer than the First and the five movements are played without a break. There is very effective use of tubular bells, harp and piano in the opening movement, and the fury of the fourth provides quite a devastating climax. Interestingly, too, the last movement is a retroversion of the first.
Fresh modernist works like these did need quite a bit of audition from me to get the full picture, and I found repeated listening did bring its own rewards. The orchestra seems to me to be really very well prepared, and there is some magnificent playing in these recordings made in the composer’s presence. Sound quality is superb – the details in the delicately scored parts are crystalline, and the climaxes are allowed to expand fully.
Toccata Press’s catalogue contains a rich seam of unusual and rarely heard music; this issue joins it with honour. In common with other Toccata releases, the booklet is exemplary, with full and helpful notes by Martin Anderson and the composer. Those wishing to sample some well-written contemporary music will find plenty to enjoy here, and I am hoping to hear more from the impressive Hyvinkää Orchestra and Tuomas Pirilä.
– Peter Joelson