Recording by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra wins BBC Music Magazine Award in London

Recording by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra wins BBC Music Magazine Award in London

The recording includes bassoon concertos by Kalevi Aho and Sebastian Fagerlund.

A recording by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra gained a prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award in the concerto category in London on Thursday 5 April 2018. The surround-sound hybrid SACD recording on the BIS label (BIS-2206 SACD) contains bassoon concertos by Kalevi Aho and Sebastian Fagerlund (Mana). The soloist is the Dutch bassoonist Bram van Sambeek, and the orchestra is conducted by its current and former principal conductors, Dima Slobodeniouk (Aho) and Okko Kamu (Fagerlund). The disc also features Fagerlund’s solo piece Woodlands, written at the same time as his concerto, and Aho’s dramatic Solo V.

The disc was released in late 2016, thirty years since the beginning of the collaboration between the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish label BIS. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has received numerous international awards for its recordings, but this is the first time it has won a BBC Music Magazine Award. Among its earlier distinctions have been two Gramophone Awards, plus three Cannes Classical Awards and a Midem Classical Award. The very successful collaboration with BIS Records has resulted in a total (including collections) of around 100 discs, with worldwide sales of around 2 million copies.

Robert von Bahr, managing director of BIS Records, is also delighted with the new award. ‘Now that BIS has once again received a prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award, it is especially gratifying that the orchestra on the disc is the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, our partner for more than thirty years, together with the incredible bassoonist Bram van Sambeek’, says von Bahr. ‘This prize has also been earned by Marion Schwebel from Take5 Music Production, who was responsible for this exceptional recording.’

The masterful handling of large orchestral forces is typical of Aho and Fagerlund

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s composer laureate Kalevi Aho (b. 1949) and his younger colleague and compatriot Sebastian Fagerlund (b. 1972) have both gained international recognition for their masterful handling of large orchestral forces. They have shown this not only in compositions for orchestra alone but also in concertante works – so far Aho has written around thirty concertos (most of them in the course of his monumental project to write a concerto for all the main orchestral instruments), whilst Fagerlund’s violin and clarinet concertos have been released by BIS Records with great success. Fagerlund’s concerto Mana was also nominated for a Nordic Council Music Prize in the autumn of 2016.

The present recording couples these two composers’ bassoon concertos, works that in a sense reflect different approaches to the concerto genre. If the Romantic concerto genre placed the soloist and orchestra in conflict with each other, Fagerlund by contrast gives the bassoon soloist in his Mana concerto (2014) the role of a spiritual guide, conjuring up new sound worlds from the orchestra. (In the composer’s first language, Swedish, the word ‘mana’ means ‘to ask for help’, whereas in Finnish the word alludes more to the exorcism of evil spirits.) Meanwhile Kalevi Aho has succeeded in enriching and expanding the sonic and interpretative possibilities of the solo instrument by means of his use of the orchestra; he characterizes his concerto as ‘almost symphonic in character’.

The soloist Bram van Sambeek was the first bassoonist ever to receive the most prestigious Dutch cultural award, the Dutch Music Prize. He is also the musician for whom Fagerlund wrote Mana, funded by a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award.