CD ReviewsFeaturedIssuesJuly 2024Reviews

New Album Feature: Sami Junnonen Flute Concertos Album: Ibert, Jolivet, Rodrigo

Sami Junnonen enjoys a varied and successful career as an internationally acclaimed Finnish flute soloist. His virtuosity, musicality and comfort with a wide and diverse repertoire have led him to collaborate with an impressive mix of celebrated artists, composers and ensembles. In addition to his solo performing and recording engagements, the award- winning Junnonen has served as principal flutist of several symphony orchestras and has taught both flute and chamber music at universities and master classes around the world.

Brief history of the Album

After completing the album production of Telemann's Twelve Fantasias for solo flute, Sami Junnonen and the English label Resonus Classics decided to record an album of 20th century flute concertos. The synergy for this production was found in the energetic Helsinki Chamber Orchestra and conductor James S. Kahane. Recorded in four consecutive days, the production was highly intense and fascinating for every professional involved.



Jacques Ibert (1890–1962)

Concerto for flute and orchestra (1934)

1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Allegro scherzando

André Jolivet (1905–1974)

Concerto for flute and string orchestra (1949)

4. Andante cantabile – Allegro scherzando 5. Largo – Allegro risoluto

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999)

Concierto pastoral for flute and orchestra (1978)

6. Allegro 7. Adagio 8. Rondó

Total playing time

[4:35] [7:02] [7:34]

[6:39] [6:04]

[7:50] [9:15] [6:25]




Why did you record this album?

I have been collaborating with the English label Resonus Classics for a number of years and we decided to record a complete album of virtuoso flute concertos. I wanted to present an inspiring selection of some of the most challenging works written for flute and orchestra in the 20th century, and producer Adam Binks was enthusiastic about the idea. After careful consideration, I chose concertos by Jacques Ibert, André Jolivet, and Joaquín Rodrigo—all works I perform frequently. These concertos work beautifully with a chamber orchestra, providing an intimate and focused sound in which each individual is important. From a flutist's perspective, this selection of works makes an ambitious and well-integrated program for a CD album.

Where did you get your inspiration?

Performing and recording music as a flute soloist has always been my strongest personal calling. Recording a concerto with an orchestra is always a very special task that requires a great deal of time and energy. The reward is invaluable professional experience and knowledge, not to mention a sound document that may reach the ears of the next generation. Creative inspiration comes from the music itself—from listening, playing and researching. During the preparation process, a deeper understanding of the work develops, and by the time of the actual recording, the interpretation has most likely reached a new, more mature artistic level.


Facts about the project

• For the first time, the flute concertos of Ibert, Jolivet and Rodrigo are heard on the same album, with Rodrigo's concerto being recorded for the first time by a Finnish flutist.

• This CD was recorded in Kauniainen, Finland, October 11–14, 2022, preceded by a concert of all three flute concertos a few days earlier. The recording was supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.

• This CD is the fifth solo album by flutist Sami Junnonen and was released by Resonus Classics on May 24, 2024.

• The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra was founded in Finland in 2018. Its Artistic Director, James S. Kahane, will begin his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada in the fall of 2024.

Album Review

Sammi Junnonen's "Flute Concertos: Ibert, Jolivet, and Rodrigo"

Sammi Junnonen's latest album, "Flute Concertos: Ibert, Jolivet, and Rodrigo," is an extraordinary showcase of his virtuosity and musical sensitivity. Tackling some of the most challenging flute concertos in the repertoire, Junnonen's performance is both technically impeccable and emotionally compelling.

Jacques Ibert's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra opens the album with a burst of vibrant energy. Junnonen's interpretation of the first movement is spirited and agile, navigating the technical demands with ease. The second movement, Andante, stands out as the album's emotional pinnacle. Here, Junnonen's tone is lush and expressive, drawing the listener into a world of profound beauty and introspection. The delicate interplay between the flute and the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of an adept conductor, James S. Kahane, creates a breathtakingly moving experience.

André Jolivet's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra presents a different set of challenges with its avant-garde idiom and intricate rhythms. Junnonen's performance is nothing short of a tour de force. His command over the flute is evident as he navigates the complex passages with precision and flair. The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra matches his intensity, providing a robust and dynamic backdrop that complements Junnonen's bold interpretation.

The album concludes with Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto Pastoral, a piece that is both technically demanding and lyrically rich. Junnonen's rendition is awe-inspiring, capturing the essence of Rodrigo's Spanish influences while showcasing his own extraordinary technique. The fast movements are executed with dazzling speed and clarity, while the slower sections are imbued with a lyrical grace that is deeply moving. The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra once again proves to be an ethereal sonic partner, enhancing the overall texture and depth of the performance.

Throughout the album, the collaboration between Sammi Junnonen and the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra is seamless. The orchestra's masterful sound provides the perfect canvas for Junnonen's impeccable artistry, resulting in a listening experience that is both profound and exhilarating. This is a colossal album that will inspire for generations to come.

--The Flute View Magazine



Horizontal Photo credit: Teemu Källi

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