Johan Tallgren’s FMQ guest column on Sibelius’s birthday, the Day of Finnish Music 2015.
"Sväng, the Finnish harmonica quartet, blows fresh air to Sibelius celebrations with arrangements of composer’s well-known works."
"It is meaningless to select a ‘best’ recording when musicians have such different views of the same pieces of music, but I can say that you would be hard-pressed to find more satisfying performances anywhere else."
"Janne Mertanen is a reliable guide to this unfailingly attractive and sometimes moving repertoire: his rhythms are precise and his textures clear."
"This was an intelligent decision: to record an anniversary cycle of orchestral Sibelius looking sideways at his bountiful incidental music and ‘minor’ orchestral works."
"Hardly anybody thinks of Sibelius as an organ composer, and yet his natural mode of composition suited the organ perfectly: he thought from the bass upwards, and that’s the way the best organ music works."
"Whether this is an opera, a form of music theatre, a happening or an extravaganza does not matter."
"Besides being a top-notch player, Patrik Kleemola is a relentless commissioner of new guitar compositions. (-) Otto Tolonen puts premieres and musical short stories aside in favour of two mammoth cornerstone-compositions of contemporary classical guitar."
"The album as a whole is moving; nostalgia in its many forms is woven into the music, and longing is expressed through carefully selected instrumental combinations."
"Crime jazz or soundtrack sounds? Yes, but in addition to allusions of the ’60s there are other things to chew on in Jimi Tenor and UMO Jazz Orchestra’s collective effort."