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Alla Breve

March 26, 1995|Timothy Mangan

ESA-PEKKA SALONEN: "Mimo," II. "YTA," I, II and III. Concerto for Alto Saxophone. "Floof." Various performers, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor. Finlandia 4509-95607-2. On the basis of this recording, Salonen is apparently a modest fellow, a brilliantly talented and sophisticated composer who has barely let us hear him locally. "A composition is either a drama or a piece of jewelry," he has said, and Salonen's compositions tend here toward the jewel-like. The pieces dubbed "YTA" I, II and III, for alto flute, piano and cello, respectively, continue in the line and reach the peaks of the "Sequenzas" of Berio, as does the giddy, nonsensical "Floof," for soprano and five instrumentalists, which sounds like the Marx Brothers let loose on the European avant-garde. After a clangorous opening, the Alto Saxophone Concerto settles down to a mezzopiano, jungle-evening buzz. "Mimo" II, for oboe and orchestra, uses a glittery, "Firebird"-ish orchestration, full of bells, trills and glissandos, to make an entertaining crescendo of activity. All of this music, refreshingly, avoids portentousness and pathos. Don't miss it.

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