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A Splendid Introduction

Songs by
Oscar Merikanto,
recommended by

Ondine    ODE 1111-2

Elämälle - Songs by Oskar Merikanto. © 2008 Ondine Inc

Merikanto was the first composer in Finland to use Finnish texts in his songs, and this is the cause of the widespread popularity that his songs enjoy even today almost a century after many of them were written. A sympathetic interpretation by the deservedly distinguished Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen adds considerably to the simple beauty of these songs. Merikanto had produced over 150 songs at his death in 1924, many of which are surprisingly Schubertian for a composer who consistently rejected the German influence in favour of developing his own national voice.

Hynninen's selection of 25 songs on this CD includes pieces like Evening bells which creates a magical atmosphere.

Listen -- Evening Bells
(track 10, 1:21-2:09) © 2008 Ondine

Annina is one of the best loved Finnish songs in the repertoire, a strophic piece in the style of a Venetian gondola song

Listen -- Annina
(track 19, 2:33-3:30) © 2008 Ondine

and the passionate Farewell (Art thou going away from me my beloved ...) is understandably a popular favourite among Finnish singers.

Listen -- Farewell
(track 15, 0:33-0:56) © 2008 Ondine

Perhaps the most relevant text for a song is Miksi laulan -- Why I sing which gives reasons in the natural world about us for our emotional bursting into song.

Listen -- Miksi laulan
(track 5, 0:45-1:08) © 2008 Ondine

For anyone unfamiliar with the repertoire of Finnish songs -- the kind we may once have described as of the drawing room -- then this CD, with its beautiful performances, is a splendid introduction.

Copyright © 11 October 2008 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Elämälle - Songs by Oskar Merikanto

ODE 1111-2 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 60'47" 2008 Ondine Inc

Jorma Hynninen, baritone; Ilkka Paananen, piano

Oskar Merikanto (1868-1924): Omenankukat (Apple blossom) Op 51 No 1 (Eino Leino); Linulle kirkkomaalla (To a bird in the churchyard) Op 52 No 2 (Eino Leino); Suvi-illan vieno tuuli (Summer evening's breeze) Op 87 No 2 (Eino Leino); Muistellessa (Remembering) Op 11 No 2 (J H Erkko); Miksi laulan (Why I sing) Op 20 No No 2 (J H Erkko); Kullan murunen (Thou art a nugget of gold) Op 20 No 1 (J H Erkko); Merellä (At sea) Op 47 No 4 (J H Erkko); Myrskylintu (Stormbird) Op 30 No 4 (Kasimir Leino); Laatokka (Lake Ladoga) Op 83 No 1 (Mikko Uotinen); Iltakellot (Evening bells) Op 106 No 1 (Päivänpoika); Haudoilta-sarja (From thhe graves, song cycle) Op 74 (Lauri Pohjanpää) (Valkeat ristit - White crosses; Laulaja taivaan portilla - A singer at the gate of Heaven; Käy kirkkomaata illoin - In the churchyard at eventide; Päivännousu kultaa kirkkomaan - Sunrise gilds the churchyard); Hyvästi! (Farewell!) Op 87 No 3 (L Onerva); Hyvää yötä (Good night) Op 75 No 1 (L Onerva); Hämärissä (In the twilight) Op 96 No 1 (L Onerva); Elämälle (To life) Op 93 No 4 (Ernst V Knape); Annina Op 51 No 2 (Daniel Fallström); Illansuussa (At nightfall) Op 69 No 2 (V A Koskenniemi); Nocturne (V A Koskenniemi); Balladi (Ballad) Op 69 No 4 (Ilmari Calamnius); Nuoruuden ylistys (Praise of youth) Op 69 No 3 (Iivo Härkönen); Soi vienosti murheeni soitto (Play softly, thou tune of my mourning) Op 36 No 3 (Heikki Ansa); Ma elän! (I am alive!) Op 71 No 1 (Larin Kyösti)


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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews