Jukka Linkola: Autumn Concerto
by Samuli Tiikkaja :: 2011
From: Conductors' Edition: Finnish Works for Chamber Orchestra
“This is particularly gratifying to perform. You can sense the musicianship of Jukka Linkola
, and this piece is a particularly happy example of music for musicians. Autumn Concerto
is suitably challenging in terms of ensemble playing, yet not too difficult. There is a decent helping of soloist writing in the parts, particularly for the winds,” says John Storgårds
Jukka Linkola’s Autumn Concerto
(1996) is written for ten musicians — five winds and five strings. It is a matter of interpretation whether this is a chamber ensemble or chamber orchestra; certainly the work could be performed without a conductor. “I’m sure it works better with a conductor, though, because it’s important to maintain rhythmic precision,” Storgårds observes.
Shades of blues
Linkola is a curious figure in Finnish music. He has written a lot of jazz and a lot of classical music, but he has almost never mixed the two genres. Autumn Concerto
is no exception: it is seated firmly in the classical-music camp and has no overt jazz features.
Storgårds does point out, though, that Linkola’s versatility as a musician cannot fail to be heard in his music. “There are a lot of different nuances in the work, as always with Linkola, but not jazz. You can find shades of blues at certain relaxed points.”
‘Occasional relaxation’ does not mean improvisation. The entire work is carefully notated, and the music progresses logically. “It’s a half-hour piece, quite a big one. Linkola keeps it together well.”
The marriage of a string quintet with a wind quintet produces a balanced chamber ensemble, since the quintets separately sound so good. The overall sound is rather dry, even if a wind quintet has plenty of colourist possibilities. Linkola makes good use of the characteristic sound of the ensemble, and there is a kind of Neo-Classical lucidity to his music.
Storgårds is excited about the clarity of Autumn Concerto
. “You can tell that the composer was enthusiastic about the piece. It’s a good piece for a small chamber orchestra. Linkola is an old hand at writing for any number of ensembles, and you can sense his confidence here too.”
Jukka Linkola (b. 1955) arrived at concert music indirectly. He did study the piano at the Sibelius Academy to begin with, but he first emerged as a jazz musician and composer. He took a first step towards concert music in Crossings (1983) for tenor saxophone and orchestra, blending the sax improvisations beautifully with the more conventional orchestral background.
Linkola has continued to pursue careers in both jazz and concert music, although he usually keeps these two worlds separate. His output also contains musicals and popular songs that do not fall into either of these two categories. Linkola is an exceptionally prolific composer, and he is remarkable for being able to adapt his writing to a wide variety of situations.
He writes in a style akin to Neo-Classicism, although there is a Romantic dimension in his music too. His rhythms are oft en punchy and energetic, reminiscent of Stravinsky, while the Romantic element appears in his melodic writing, which in turn recalls Prokofiev or even film composer Bernard Herrmann.
© Kimmo Korhonen
Conductors' Edition: Finnish Works for Chamber Orchestra
Compiled and edited by Samuli Tiikkaja
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Internet edition (2006): ISBN-13: 978-952-5076-58-5; ISBN-10: 952-5076-58-X
Photo: Saara Vuorjoki/Fimic