Regional Spotlight: Osmo Vanska plays Aho

by Steve Staruch, Minnesota Public Radio
November 12, 2009
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St. Paul, Minn. — Osmo Vanska put down his baton to take up the clarinet for the United States premiere of a quintet by one of his friends Kalevi Aho.

The piece is part of a larger cycle of string quintets featuring one woodwind - a project Aho began back in the '70s.

Aho was approached by the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival to write a quintet with clarinet and without hesitation, he thought of his conductor friend Osmo Vanska. Vanska and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra had premiered many of Aho's works over the years. The work was given its world premiere in Sweden in 1999 and its United States premiere as part of the Music in the Park series last October.

Osmo Vanska told the audience that Aho's music resonates with him because it is grounded in real-life experiences rather than more esoteric "systems."

He also pointed out that the music is (nearly) impossible to play, but it was well worth the effort!

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This concert was recorded on October 11, 2009 at Hamline University's Sundin Hall.

Osmo Vanska, clarinet

Sarah Kwak and Gina DiBello, violins

Thomas Turner, viola

Anthony Ross, cello

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