Juhani Aaltonen & Iro Haarla: Kirkastus

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Juhani Aaltonen & Iro Haarla: Kirkastus
On the sublime Kirkastus saxophonist & flutist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist & harpist Iro Haarla engage in a series of intimate and impressionistic duets that brim with lyricism and spontaneity. A definite spirituality marks all ten of Haarla's compositions and, although various Psalms inspired most, the sacred nature of the music goes beyond strict religious boundaries to a universal and timeless devotional state. The ethereal "Long Sole Sound," for instance, has a Zen serenity. Haarla's strummed, sparse harp strings form the organic framework over which Aaltonen's breathy, warm bass flute floats. The piece is quite evocative and atmospheric with individual improvisations that are complex and fluid, especially as they embrace one another in an exquisite, ad lib conversation.

The expressive "Still Waters" also has Eastern hints especially as Haarla, on harp, conjures the sound of waves lapping against the shore with her virtuosic acrobatics. Aaltonen's staccato saxophone undulates with spirited and brassy tones like a warm summer breeze. Gradually the tune becomes more angular and free flowing as Haarla and Aaltonen embellish the main theme with intelligent and emotive extemporizations.

On the intensely pensive "Nightjar" Haarla switches to the Chinese zither Guzheng. Aaltonen's nocturnesque solo meanders in contemplative circles around Haarla's resonant strums. The two musicians serenade each other in meditative soliloquys reminiscent of otherworldly lullabies.

The most dramatic moment of this exquisite album comes with the title track. This Haarla original reflects the glorification that its name signifies. Aaltonen blows fiery melancholic lines while Haarla's piano cascades crystalline notes with wistful passion. The expectant ambience is simultaneously filled with introspection and fervor. The latter grows as Aaltonen's tenor honks and squawks and Haarla floods the piece with shimmering, crescendo phrases.

Aaltonen and Haarla have been collaborating for about a dozen years and their superb camaraderie shows on this subtly provocative and soulful recording. This abstractly transcendent work is perhaps their best yet. On it they liberate one another from the arranged constraints of larger ensembles. The result is a series poetic and mellifluous stream consciousness dialogues.

Track Listing

Evening Prayer; Out of the Depths; Still Waters; Kirkastus; Arie--A Song for Lost Love; Nightjar; Farewell to Valomaki; Long Sole Sound;Hear Me Cry;Lead Me to the Rock.


Juhani Aaltonen: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 4 ,6, 7, 9, 10), flute (2), alto flute (5), bass flute (8); Iro Haarla: piano (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10), harp (3, 6, 8), chen (6), percussion (2).

Album information

Title: Kirkastus | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: TUM Records

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