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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pēteris Vasks - Symphony No. 3; Cello Concerto (John Storgårds; Marko Ylönen)


Composer: Pēteris Vasks
  • (01-04) Symphony No. 3
  • (05-09) Cello Concerto

Marko Ylönen, cello (5-9)
Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor

Date: 2006
Label: Ondine



How Tampere got more than they bargained for from the Latvian

Peteris Vasks (b1946) came to international prominence with his deeply impressive and atmospheric First Symphony, Voices for string orchestra, in 1991. His Second appeared in 1999 and has garnered considerable acclaim, not least the Latvia Music Prize in 2000 and the Cannes Classical Disc of the Year in 2004. Much might then be expected of his Third.

It was commissioned by the Tampere Philharmonic and completed in 2005. They wanted a work lasting 15 to 20 minutes; they received one exceeding 40! I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it. Cast in a single movement, it divides into either three or four main sections depending on whether you believe the booklet or the track-listing (it can be argued both ways). Although strong on portentous atmosphere, it is a little light on material, at least material that might sustain so large an edifice. In addition, the symphony does not possess the harmonic movement essential to tonal symphonism and gets bogged down more than once. As a result, despite many fine passages, it is only intermittently convincing as a symphony.

The Cello Concerto (1993-94), by contrast, is a much more consistently achieved work (and only 10 minutes shorter in this performance). One of Vasks’s finest orchestral compositions, it was written for David Geringas, who recorded a splendid premiere account, coupled with Voices (Conifer , 12/96 – nla). Ylönen proves an excellent substitute, having the measure of the work, a touch slower overall, and the better recording.

-- Guy Rickards, Gramophone

More reviews:


Pēteris Vasks (born 16 April 1946 in Aizpute, Latvia) is a Latvian composer. He trained as a violinist and a double-bass player and played in several Latvian orchestras before entering the State Conservatory in Vilnius in Lithuania to study composition with Valentin Utkin. He started to become known outside Latvia in the 1990s, when Gidon Kremer started championing his works and now is one of the most influential and praised European contemporary composers. Vasks's compositions incorporate archaic, folklore elements from Latvian music with the language of contemporary music.


Marko Ylönen was born in Rantasalmi, Finland, on June 11, 1966. He was a student of Csaba Szilvay at the East Helsinki Music Institute and of Heikki Rautasalo and Erkki Rautio at the Helsinki-based Sibelius Academy. From 1985-1989 Ylönen had further studies in Basel, Switzerland, with cello virtuoso Heinrich Schiff. Ylönen has performed in as many different roles as soloist, orchestral player and principal, string quartet member, freelance player in duos and trios, and teacher. He has also been a winner and prizewinner in major competitions and a prolific recording artist.


John Storgårds (born 20 October 1963 in Helsinki) is a Finnish violinist and conductor. Storgårds studied violin with Esther Raitio and Jouko Ignatius, and study conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He was Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2015. Storgårds was also Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2009. He has made a number of international recordings for Ondine, Sony and BIS Records.


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