The Limelight Recording of the Month for February comes from a Finnish composer who is perhaps better known as an international concert pianist. Olli Mustonen, who grew up writing music, now has three symphonies under his belt. The Second is based on a Finnish novel about the fall of Byzantium, while the Third sets words from an English translation of the Kalevala (here sung with hypnotic power by British tenor Ian Bostridge). Mustonen himself conducts the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.
Clive Paget caught up with the composer to talk about being an eight-year-old student of Einojuhani Rautavaara, his thoughts on his own musical language, and how words lie at the roots of his symphonic output.
Was composing always a part of your life?
Absolutely, it was always part of being a musician. I actually started composing before I started playing the piano. My first instrument was the harpsichord, which I’ve played since I was five! My sister is a harpsichordist. My parents were great enthusiasts of early music, so they bought a little spinet which was my first instrument. Immediately I started playing, I started improvising and then started composing. When I was about seven, my parents thought, “Well, maybe one...