FAGERLUND; AHO Bassoon Concertos
Sebastian Fagerlund’s violin concerto Darkness in Light mightily impressed me on disc (5/15) and his no less involving bassoon concerto Mana (2013 14) reveals once again his fertile and compelling musical intellect. In a single, unbroken span lasting 19 minutes, Mana is an imaginative fantasia, its three sections alternately lively and contemplative. While sounding taxing to play (though I’m no bassoonist), its dedicatee Bram van Sambeek relishes its demands and is given wonderful support by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Okko Kamu. Van Sambeek also throws off the atmospheric solo Woodlands (2012), part tone poem, part instrumental study composed in preparation ahead of the concerto.
Fagerlund’s elder compatriot Kalevi Aho has composed an impressive array of concertos standing alongside his epic series of symphonies (16 to date). For those who know his weighty Contrabassoon Concerto (7/07), Aho’s Bassoon Concerto (2004) is a lithe yet compelling sinfonia concertante in four movements (five if the cadenza – which follows the third, an atmospheric Passacaglia with a whiff of Rautavaara about it – is counted separately), slow-fast slow-fast, possessing considerable cumulative power and no little symphonic gravity. A more rounded work than Mana, it is beautifully played by van Sambeek in a nuanced and balanced account strongly supported by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, with whom he audibly enjoys great rapport, under one of the best concerto conductors around, Dima Slobodeniouk. There is also a breathtakingly virtuoso account of Solo V (1999), the bassoon instalment in Aho’s marvellous ongoing instrumental series. Stunningly vivid sound throughout, as we expect from BIS.