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Pekka Pohjola

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Pekka Pohjola Sinfonia No 1 album cover
3.69 | 40 ratings | 2 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Parts I and II (10:40)
2. Part III (17:00)

Total Time 27:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Pekka Pohjola / composer, co-producer
- Avanti! / chamber orchestra
- Olli Pohjola / conductor, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Leena Jääskeläinen.

LP: Flamingo, FGL 4041.
CD: Flamingo, FGCD 4041.
Re-released by Svart Records, 2022.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Matti for the last updates
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PEKKA POHJOLA Sinfonia No 1 ratings distribution

(40 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

PEKKA POHJOLA Sinfonia No 1 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
3 stars Svart Records has recently re-released the original 1990 recording of Pekka Pohjola's first symphony. As far as I know, this orchestral piece hasn't been played in concert halls ever since (I may be wrong), let alone put on a record again. The classical music circles in general seem not to value very high this "amateur symphony" composed by the man (1952-2008) whose merits are in jazz/fusion and progressive rock.

Petri Silas's liner notes in the re-release shed some light on the thoughts of Pekka Pohjola himself. "'Symphonic' and 'Sibelian' took root as attributes to describe his compositional style in the press in the mid-1980's. More often than not, Pohjola got irritated and drove allusions like these away. But in the aftermath of his 1986 album Flight of the Angel, the tide began turning. (...) Pohjola got to work on something he was reluctant to call a symphony, but which was unquestionably symphonic in nature." And further, citing Pohjola's autobiography: "I never studied music theory and I haven't got the foggiest of the correct form of a symphony or a sonata. I am not interested in writing symphonies, but I am very interested in writing music for symphony orchestras."

The symphony was performed by an extended Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Pekka's cousin Olli Pohjola. Recording and mixing were done by Jorma Hämäläinen who recalls that some old school engineers from the classical circles had dismissed his 'unorthodox' method of close section miking for strings, reeds, brass etc. instead of a simple stereo miking in order to emulate the concert experience. I'm certainly no expert with these matters, I can only say this recording sounds good.

The relatively short symphony (27:40) is namely in three parts, although parts I and II are seamlessly together and last only 10:43 in total. The piece starts in a slow tempo. If Pohjola had used the Italian terminology for classical compositions, the beginning could have been marked as 'Adagio misterioso'. Around the fourth minute the intensity grows in a brass-heavy and uneasy way but gracefully the music returns to mellowness in which there are very beautiful individual melodies for various wind instruments. I have some associations for the most orchestral moments in Mike Oldfield's Incantations.

Part III starts triumphantly. The use of the sharp-sounding brass section is not very enjoyable to my ears, but I'm charmed by the more serene moments giving the focus on strings and reeds. Indeed, all in all I tend to prefer the calmer and more chamber music oriented moments in this symphony. The orchestration is surprisingly fine and nuanced on those moments, whereas the stormy grandiosity sometimes feels a bit hollow and pointless, frankly rather tiresome to listen to. Gracefully the final minute is calm and thus ends the symphony beautifully.

Measured against "the real" symphony oeuvre this one surely leaves a lot to be desired in both form and orchestration, and I'd probably rate it with two and a half stars. However, as an orchestral work by a musician NOT from the classical establishment, this is among the most interesting ones, and it probably sounds as good now as it sounded in 1990. 3½ stars rounded down due the EP-like shortness for an album.

Latest members reviews

5 stars My goodness, did this man have any musical limitations? As I listen to this, I realize how fortunate we are to have had Pekka with us while we're on this planet. His musical contributions are so varied and consistently inspired that one tends to take him for granted. But this Sinfonia shows his ... (read more)

Report this review (#277962) | Posted by tmay102436 | Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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