This release is an important milestone in the collaboration between the Engegård Quartet and Finnish composer and pianist Olli Mustonen. The recording includes Mustonen’s String Quartet No. 1 from 2016, commissioned and premiered by the Engegård Quartet, and a slightly earlier work, the Piano Quintet from 2014.
Olli Mustonen is one of the Nordic countries’ most sought after musicians, as pianist, conductor, and composer. His compositions are performed worldwide. While the Engegård Quartet has commissioned several works from Norwegian composers, the String Quartet No 1 is their first international commission. Olli describes many of his works as a journey from darkness towards light, and these two pieces are no exception. The Engegård Quartet describes the appeal of Mustonen’s compositions: “We feel that Olli’s works are deeply spiritual while they have an almost ritualistic magnetism. This raw irresistibility is made even more powerful by the tight structural forms Olli masters in his compositions.”
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Olli Mustonen has a unique place on today’s music scene. Following the tradition of great masters such as Rachmaninov, Busoni and Enescu, Mustonen combines the roles of his musicianship as composer, pianist and conductor in an equal balance that is quite exceptional, often bringing them together in one fascinating triple role performance.
Formed under the midnight sun in Lofoten in 2006, the Engegård Quartet has rapidly become one of Norway’s most sought-after ensembles. Their bold, fresh interpretations of the classical repertoire combined with a deep attachment to their Scandinavian roots has attracted international acclaim and inspired some innovative partnerships and programming.
Olli Mustonen – Piano
Arvid Engegård – Violin
Alex Robson – Violin
Juliet Jopling – Viola
Jan Clemens Carlsen – Cello
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 00:43:43
|Original Recording Format
|October 7, 2022
Can you say, “modern”? Can you say “influenced by Bartok”? His hero. Can you say, “utterly delightful” and “thoroughly engaging”!?!
If you like Bartok’s string quartets, as I do, you should really give these works by Mustonen a listen. No, they are not clones of Bartok by any means. But they are very much influenced by Bartok and work on many of the same levels of communication as Bartok’s quartets. One will also hear influences of Shostakovich and Sibelius, as well as more recent trends in minimalism and neo-Baroque. All have been absorbed into Mustonen’s compositional make-up.
These works are intense, they are playful; they are serious, they are slyly humorous. I am quite enchanted. And, as with the Bartok and Shostakovich, they sound very, very challenging to perform.
And the Engegård Quartet deliver their usual superb performances. As with their performances, Engegård’s work together here shows seamless ensemble, and huge technical capabilities. How can they make some things so clearly difficult sound so effortless? They just do. Well done! And highly recommended. I hope they choose to record more of Mustonen’s work.
The power of these recordings is enhanced by superb sound quality from mastering and recording engineer Thomas Wolden who captures an acoustic with plenty of air and bloom, yet filled with detail and impact.
I don’t hesitate to recommend this disc; the playing of all participants is superb, and the recording is of the highest quality too. Mustonen is a most intriguing composer, in that he appears quite happy to be seen within the existing traditions of chamber music, yet is developing his own personal and distinctive style of writing.
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