Viennese musicians and musicologists took the occasion of the composer’s 74th birthday on 9 March 2023 to celebrate the anniversary with a chamber concert and a round of talks on the two preceding days, with Kalevi Aho present on both occasions.

The concert, which took place on 7 March in the ‘Glass Hall’ of the Vienna Musikverein, featured the violinist couple Rémy and Iris Ballot, also known as conductor and concertmaster of the Klangkollektiv Wien, and the pianist Anika Vavić. Two compositions by Kalevi Aho formed the framework of the programme.

It would have been difficult to open the evening more impressively than with Rémy Ballot’s performance of In memoriam Pehr Henrik Nordgren, a solo piece written by Kalevi Aho in 2009 in honour of the great composer’s colleague who had died the year before. Ballot let the music unfold with rhapsodic spontaneity, without forgetting the strict, consistent structure of the work. The melismatic sections and the chorale-like double-stop passages emerged from each other like choruses and responsories, creating the compelling effect of a shamanic mourning ritual. It should also be emphasised how confidently Ballot mastered an extremely quiet passage in the highest register, in which the music is barely audible against the rustling background of the bowing.

Read Florian Schuck’s full review here (in German).