Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No 2 begins with a percussive snap and snarl, followed by string flurries like gusts of wind. The mood is angry and restless; the notes giving expression to something hard to put into words. Although this is a traditional four-movement symphony, albeit originally conceived as a concerto for orchestra, the Austrian composer is right when he says his piece is really about ‘different forms of energy: bundled, scattered, smooth, kinetic or furious.’

Thomas Larcher

It is also a grief-laden work. Titled “Kenotaph”, Symphony No 2 is a monument to the refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean, and its mood is essentially tragic. The first movement is unsettled, while the heavy weight of loss infuses the  Adagio , a bed of strings tinged with piano and brooding woodwind. The forceful repetition of a single chord in the Scherzo gives way to a snippet of Mahlerian Ländler, and this is not Larcher’s only reference to the classical tradition. Shostakovich and Bach echo in the finale too. The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and...