Vuori: Symphonies 1 and 2
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Harri Vuori: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Catalogue Number: TOCC0087
EAN: 5060113440877
Release Date: 19 May 2008
Duration: 76:10

Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 2

Hyvinkää Orchestra, orchestra
Tuomas Pirilä, conductor

Like many contemporary composers, Harri Vuori (born in Lahti, Finland, in 1957) approached the symphony with some hesitation. But having taken the plunge, Vuori has expertly married his modernist’s palette of colours with an awareness of symphonic architecture to create two very different works, the First (2003) in the traditional four-movement form and the Second (2007) in a grand arch of five linked movements – Vuori’s virtuoso handling of the orchestra producing music that shimmers with light and heaves with energy.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-4 Symphony No. 1 (2003)

Harri Vuori, composer
Hyvinkää Orchestra, orchestra
Tuomas Pirilä, conductor

(first recording)
1 I. Adagio non tanto – Allegretto 14:47 play
2 II. Lento – 9:36 play
3 III. Allegro e molto scherzando – 4:33 play
4 IV. Allegro non troppo 8:52 play
5-9 Symphony No. 2 (2007)

Harri Vuori, composer
Hyvinkää Orchestra, orchestra
Tuomas Pirilä, conductor

(first recording)
5 I. Lento – 6:10 play
6 II. Allegro – 9:40 play
7 III. Adagio – 10:08 play
8 IV. Appassionato – 6:27 play
9 V. Lento 5:57 play


Harri Vuori

Harri Vuori, composer

Hyvinkää Orchestra

Hyvinkää Orchestra, orchestra

Tuomas Pirilä

Tuomas Pirilä, conductor


Harri Vuori is a name new to me, and new on my radar, too are the Hyvinkää Orchestra and Tuomas Pirilä. Vuori was born in Lahti, destined to be associated with Osmo Vänskä, Sibelius and BIS, in 1957 and has been composer in residence with this orchestra since 1997.

The First Symphony was originally planned in one movement to set it apart from the usual symphonic traditional form. As Vuori explains in his notes for this release, the piece evolved into three movements and he added a “breezy and quirky middle movement” to lighten the work; certainly it seems to me to act as a musical sorbet. The finale makes use of folk rhythms from Karelia. The work is modernist though tonal, with a rich variety of orchestral textures, from transparent delicacy to thundering climaxes, and wonderfully exciting use of percussion.

The very recent Second Symphony was written for Hyvinkää’s 90th anniversary of foundation and premiered by the forces here just over a year ago. The work is sparer than the First and the five movements are played without a break. There is very effective use of tubular bells, harp and piano in the opening movement, and the fury of the fourth provides quite a devastating climax. Interestingly, too, the last movement is a retroversion of the first.

Fresh modernist works like these did need quite a bit of audition from me to get the full picture, and I found repeated listening did bring its own rewards. The orchestra seems to me to be really very well prepared, and there is some magnificent playing in these recordings made in the composer’s presence. Sound quality is superb – the details in the delicately scored parts are crystalline, and the climaxes are allowed to expand fully.

Toccata Press’s catalogue contains a rich seam of unusual and rarely heard music; this issue joins it with honour. In common with other Toccata releases, the booklet is exemplary, with full and helpful notes by Martin Anderson and the composer. Those wishing to sample some well-written contemporary music will find plenty to enjoy here, and I am hoping to hear more from the impressive Hyvinkää Orchestra and Tuomas Pirilä.

Peter Joelson Audiophile Audition 26th January 2009

The international success enjoyed by Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho has rather drawn attention away from their contemporaries. Fifty last year, Harri Vuori is esthetically closer to the underrated (outside Finland) Jouni Kaipainen, not least in having embraced the symphonic medium from an unabashed Modernist perspective. The two works featured here offer a thoughtful if not wholly convincing perspective on the reconciling of tradition with innovation.

Those familiar with the engaging orchestral work Kri (recorded on Ondine) will be interested to hear how Vuori modified his idiom in the composing of his First Symphony (2003). There are four movements: in the first, a substantial introduction elides seamlessly into a main movement where a sonata-type momentum is implied through relative density of texture rather than secured by motivic evolution; the second is a slow movement building to a finely shaped emotional apex, while the third alternates contrasting ‘scherzo’ and ‘trio’ material before running directly into the finale ­ with its hint of a refrain that underlies the powerful coda, a culmination of the work in all respects, whose eruptive peaks gradually evanesce into nothingness.

Vuori speaks of his Second Symphony (2007) as being in complete contrast. Certainly there is less reliance on piano and tuned percussion to fill out the texture, while the pan-harmonic aspect beloved of neo-Modernists is allied to a tonal richness redolent of 1970s Per Nørgård, though the surprising (in context) influence of Roberto Gerhard remains ­ notably in near-literal quotations from the latter’s Fourth Symphony in the second movement. Structured in five continuous movements, the initial Lento unfolds by textural aggregation towards an Allegro that evolves in stages to a finely judged climax, followed by a lengthy Adagio which unfolds in waves of increasing then decreasing activity to its central focal point. A restless Appassionato then brings the most febrile music in the whole work, its non-resolution making way for a Lento which methodically reverses the trajectory of the first movement so that the work ends with a return to its very beginning.

Both works are scrupulously well played by the Hyvinkää Orchestra, which clearly deserves to have a recorded profile comparable to those in Lahti and Tampere, while the sound does full justice to this music’s intricate textures. Detailed notes are provided by composer, conductor Tuomas Pirilä and Martin Anderson, on whose Toccata Classics label this is among the most significant issues to date, not least in demonstrating explicitly the problems faced by the symphonists of today. Of these, Harri Vuori, if not the most successful, is still among the most thought-provoking.

Richard Whitehouse International Record Review September 2008

A welcome release for a notable symphonic debut—and its successor

Harri Vuori (b 1957) came relatively late to music, not starting to study until his mid-teens. His teachers included Heininen, Hämeenniemi and Rautavaara who, with 16 symphonies between them, have proved ideal guides for when Vuori, aged 46, finally overcame his youthful aversion to the form. In one of three notes in the booklet, he writes of the symphony’s special meaning for him, but this is manifest in every bar of the symphonies recorded here in Hyvinkää, where Vuori has been composer-in-residence since 1997.

Vuori’s style is fairly generic, the idiom that of early 21st-century post-modernism. One can sense elements of Heininen in the orchestral sound, though Vuori’s harmonic language owes more to Hämeenniemi, with its allowance of tonal centres (B flat in No 1, E in No 2). Both works are large-scale, running to almost 40 minutes, the First (2003) in four, broadly conventional movements with only one break (between the opening Allegretto, with its Adagio non tanto introduction, and the ensuing Lento). Like Henze’s Seventh, it is something of a slow-burner, sounding massive and hugely impressive in places but taking a few hearings for all the elements to fall into place.

The Second (2007) is lighter in tone and very different in design and expressive profile. Its five movements play without a break to form a slow-fast-slow-fast-slow design, its harmonic language spectral, the textures often gossamer thin.

Neither symphony is quite as distinct an entity as those of Kalevi Aho or Jouni Kaipainen, but neither is an attempt to emulate theirs. Both works emerge from a different aesthetic and with something distinctive to say. The Hyvinkää Orchestra, which I had not previously encountered, play superbly thoughout and the sound is excellent. Definitely worth a try.

Guy Rickards Gramophone September 2008

colourful, muscular language, full of spectacular orchestral effects

Andrew Clements The Guardian 27th June 2008

thrillingly rich music […] stunningly recorded [:…] the sound seems literally to reach out of your speakers or headphones

Rob Barnett MusicWeb International June 2008

I have been mesmerized by the haunting sounds of the marvelous Harri Vuori disc. Great work! I usually go as far as Rautavaara, Aho and Sallinen and sometimes Kaipainen...but these symphonies are quite magical.

Brian Ferrell


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