Ismo Eskelinen press reviews
"This guitarist is a major talent. This performance makes each piece sound as if it were being heard for the first time. When the Jose sonata first surfaced, it was described as a work influenced by Ravel. Until this performace, I never heard that, but the way Eskelinen voices his chords, and his approach to articulation reveals the connection to Ravel's neoclassic glistening. The Falla pieces are exquisitely tender and mysterious or fiery and passionate. Rodrigo's treacherous Invocation y Danza is tossed off without strain, but with all the terror and wildness the music evokes. The prelude of the Mompou sounds with greater clarity and effect than I've ever heard...
Eskelinen is a powerfull, colorfull player, with a rock-solid control of rhythm and dynamics and a sophisticated approach to phrasing. One impressive quality is his fidelity to the score - not in a slavish, unimaginative way, but in his capacity to realize perfectly, and convey clearly, the most complex rhythmic figures and contrapuntal textures. Too often, others only approximate these passages.
This artist is an exciting discovery..."
Keaton, American Record guide november/december 2007
“Technically, Eskelinen soon emerges as Barrueco’s equal in the intricate reworking of the original solo violin part. But there’s also a brilliance and immediacy with Eskelinen’s playing that draws the listener into Pärt’s world on a similar level to that achieved by Gidon Kremer two decades ago. On the orchestral front, Kangas draws from his team a level of drama and gravitas that fully complements Eskelinen’s input.
Elsewhere, Eskelinen presents an equally impressive solo agenda, in which he introduces the engaging and poignant Vientulibas Sonate by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks alongside the more familiar works of Brouwer and Takemitsu. Throughout the proceedings, Eskelinen fully maintains the high standard he set for himself in Fratres.
A superb release from an enterprising young guitarist of global potential.”
Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar, June 2007
"...Mustonen's music was rich in atmosphere and its three sections ranged through contrasting moods and imagery conjured up by Eskelinen's expressive playing. (Rautavaaras Variétude) demonstrated the guitarist's impressive technical virtuosity as he negotiated the many transformations of the introductory motif. Ismo Eskelinen ended with a richly satisfying account of the Variations on Folia de Espana by the mexican Manuel Ponce, transporting his audience to the traditional realm of the Guitar with playing of classical delicacy and sensitivity as he traversed the complexities of the 20 Variations and the contrapuntal exigencies of the fugue."
Margaret Davies, Musical Opinion May-June 2007
“ Apparently there is some sort of oceanic flow which carries feelings of the south to the farthest reaches of northern Europe! At least one might believe that, hearing the beautiful Ponce playing of Finnish guitarist Ismo Eskelinen.
Eskelinen begins with Ponce’s most formidable work, the Variations sur “Folia de Espana” et Fugue . It is a wonderful traversal of this core work of the repertoire. Eskelinen’s tone is gorgeous, and he is recorded in a spacious but clear acoustic. As is vital in this work, he maintains rhythmic integrity without rigidity. Some recordings are absolutely infuriating in their constant tugging at the pulse. Another major work, Sonata III, receives a similarly beautiful treatment, with a particularly ravishing slow movement.
The warming currents have reached as far as the chamber orchestra of Lapland who join the guitarist for a fine account of the Concierto del Sur. The sound is very fine, with a fairly realistic balance of the forces. …the arpeggios and scales of the last movement are wonderfully virtuosic.
If you can find this CD - and it is worth the search - this is a very fine one-disc survey of some of Ponce’s greatest works.”
Albert Kunze, Soundboard Vol XXXI, No 2/3 (2006)
”Hier erklang das Quintett für Gitarre und Streichquartett, ein apartes Stück mit einem pastoralen Einstieg, in dem man sogleich vorführte, zu welch schöner klanglichen Abstimmung man gefunden hatte. Der Gitarre blieb fast immer der notwendige Spielraum. Den nutzte Ismo Eskelinen, und es wurde klar, warum der Finne in die erste Reihe heutiger Gitarristen gehört. Faszinierend waren das Spiel des in schwindelnde Höhen geführten Violoncello (Henri Demarquette), die Freude am Musizieren auch bei Mira Wang, Alina Abragimova (V) und Hsin-Yun Huang (Va). Als Colin Corrie den spanischen Volkstanz (Fandango) am Ende mit Kastagnette würzte, war das Glück vollkommen." Dresdner neueste Nachrichten 8/2006
"Zusammen mit dem Gitarristen Ismo Eskelinen spielte sie(Baiba Skride) eine Sonate in A-Dur von Paganini, von denen dieser insgesamt zwölf schrieb. Bei aller Virtuosität hatte sie nur wenig mit den landläufigen Paganini-Vorstellungen gemein. Das war ein besonnenes,ausdrucksstarkes, im musikalischen Gestus eng verflochtenes Miteinander, das keine Wünsche offen ließ. Einschmeichelnd und wunderbar die schlichte, aufs Wesentliche konzentrierte Intimität des Mittelsatzes!" Dresdner neueste Nachrichten 8/2006
"This is, without doubt, the finest recording of these particular works I have yet come accross: it would be difficult to imagine a finer interpretation of this superb composer’s works.” Classical Guitar / September 2004
”Eskelinen’s performance of the concerto is focussed, clean, and incisive. Of the handful of recordings of the concerto currently available Eskelinen’s is the best complement to Segovia’s classic recording…Eskelinen’s performance of the variations is very strong. It has a nice continuity( there seem to be few edits), it is technically first rate, and the performance of the closing fugue is one of the most convincing I’ve heard…His playing in III is particularly showy; he dispatches the tricky scale runs in the penultimate section with technical precision and sangfroid.” American Record Guide September/October 2004
”His readings were occasionally unusual but solid, with some well-considered dramatic gestures, and the slower variations of the Chaconne(Bach) were magic. His tone was full and his technique secure...” Soundboard(USA), summer 2001
“Guitar music from the realm of the senses. On his new record Ismo Eskelinen plays delicate works for guitar in a way that is caressingly beautiful. The items on the disc are all taken from the contemporary guitar repertoire, and he has chosen pieces softer in idiom and more lyrical in mood. Technically his playing sounds admirably easy and supple, and musically his message is carefully considered and direct.” (Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE 2005, Heikki Valsta)
”Ismo Eskelinen has honed his way into the top guitarist league. His latest disc is excellent by any standart…Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita and the middle movement of the III sonata present such a beautiful guitar sound that I don’t recall hearing anything like it before. His playing is also rich in timbres and incisiveness so that the 20 variations and fugue spun from the folia theme arch to form a monumental work almost in the manner of a Bach Chaconne.” (Helsingin Sanomat, Veijo Murtomäki)
“Record of the Year 2003” (Helsingin Sanomat)
”Ismo Eskelisestä has shaped up into a top virtuoso and a top artist… Adding to this the fact that the warmth and dynamism of his guitar sound have been captured well on record, the disc is little short of a bull’s-eye.” (Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), Kare Eskola)
”Ismo Eskelinen spelade solostemman ( Jukka Tiensuu: gitarrenkonsert ) inkännande och eftertänktsamt. Enligt programbladet hade Eskelinen själv skrivit kadenserna; de kadenser som förekom…anslöt sig helt sömlöst och det var omöjligt att avgöra var gränser mellan tonsättare och solisten gick.” Hufvudstadsbladet 4 / 2005