Sonata concertante

by Kalevi Aho

for accordion string orchestra

Empty sheet

Kalevi Aho

Sonata concertante

Modus Musiikki


The Sonata concertante is a version for accordion and strings of my first Accordion Sonata, which I composed on the initiative of Matti Rantanen in 1984. The final version of that sonata was not, however, completed until 1989, in collaboration with Marjut Tynkkynen, who premiered it at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival on 29 July 1989. In my first Accordion Sonata I tried to stretch the instrument’s technical potential to the limits and to write something for the accordion that was as immensely virtuosic as the most virtuosic works by Liszt for the piano.

In 1989, I also wrote a version of the first Sonata for two accordions based on the original one of 1984. Susanne and Veli Kujala premiered this Sonata for Two Accordions in Helsinki on 27 October 2002.

Another accordionist, Janne Valkeajoki, later became interested in the first Sonata, too, and it was he who suggested I further make a concertante version, this time for accordion and strings; for the original Sonata was, he said, by its very nature highly orchestral. It could then be performed in concerts by chamber orchestras. In autumn 2018, Valkeajoki himself produced a draft of this concertante version, and in August 2019 I used it as the basis for the Sonata concertante, which keeps very closely to the original Sonata. This new arrangement can be performed with either a string quintet or a fairly small string orchestra.

Like the other versions, the Sonata concertante is in two broad movements. They both begin with an improvisatory Prelude and end with a structurally freer coda. The beginning of the first movement is marked by many changes of tempo and brilliant, cadenza-like passages. The main movement proper is a broad Passacaglia that becomes highly virtuosic. The Prelude that begins the second movement is dominated by tremendous, farroaming octave figures that pause from time to time on repeated notes and massive clusters. These are in turn followed by a structurally complex triple Fugue.

Both movements use the same basic musical material, a freely-applied 12-note row.

Kalevi Aho. Translation Susan Sinisalo


str, acc solo


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra

+ Add information

No sheet music available from Music Finland.