AHO Works with and for Organ
Aho’s writing for organ certainly betrays the same ear for instrumental colour as his orchestral works, and it is refreshing to hear what one might call a ‘non-French’ approach to the instrument. The writing is springy, the melodic lines clear and athletic, textures uncluttered; the lineage is certainly northern European, and Bach in particular is paid homage to in Aho’s remarkable completion of the Contrapunctus XIV from The Art of Fugue.
The longest piece here is the austere Quasi una fantasia for horn and organ but for me the most impressive works are Ludus solemnis, whose opening suggests a majestic chorale prelude and then splinters into a sequence of precisely coloured landscapes, exploiting to the full the magnificent Åkerman & Lund organ in St John’s church in Malmö, and the elegiac Laulu maasta (‘Song of the Earth’) for violin, oboe and organ. This latter is just under five minutes in length but one feels that it could be expanded into a much longer piece, so engaging is the material and so fascinating the colours produced by this unlikely trio of instruments. There are also simpler, practical pieces here – three wedding marches written at different times, an Epilogue for trombone and organ, and a lovely In memoriam. There is clearly more for Aho to say in this field and Lehtola is the man to transmit the message.