"Foreigners like me once had the idea that Finland was a difficult country in which to be a composer; so strong was Sibelius’s legacy and so dominant those famous names who succeeded him. But that idea now seems outdated," writes Andrew Mellor in his column on the Day of Finnish Music.
An opera inspired by the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 had to wait more than 50 years to be properly performed at an opera house. On stage in Budapest, this opera seems frighteningly topical, again.
Einar Englund’s Violin Concerto of 1981 is one of the major violin concertos of the past century – and not just from Finland.
For all the passion at the climax of the Balada and the lusty drama of the last of the Four Songs, the music here sings Rautavaara to rest in the rich autumnal tones that are unmistakably his.
The aesthetic pluralism represented here is remarkable; Bergman pushes the envelope of musical expression. Matti Hyökki, with a group of professional singers, masters even the trickiest passages with aplomb.
On Alba’s new recording, Henri Sigfridsson makes the most of Palmgren’s brilliant solo parts in The River (Piano Concerto no. 2) and Metamorphoses (no. 3) without reducing them to shallow virtuoso vehicles.
Oh yes! One of the best releases this year is the gilt-edged calling card of accordionist-composer Veli Kujala that simultaneously slakes a thirst for something new and strikes a nostalgic chord.
Olavi Louhivuori splashed on to the scene in 2002 as drummer of Ilmiliekki Quartet. Since then, this restless multi-instrumentalist has played with the genre-shattering Oddarrang and many other groups in Europe and the US – while at the same time composing for orchestras and electronic solo albums.
“If you look far enough back in any culture, music is born out of many different aspects and influences, including the physical environment that you live in. This is the key for me, finding your own points of connection with your culture, whatever that might be,” says widely travelled multi-instrumentalist Nathan Riki Thomson.
In this issue we explore the relationship between music and environment, both natural and cultural. What traces, influences and meanings of the environment do the people who create, consume and study music find in it today?
Susanna Mälkki began her three-year term as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra this autumn. We asked her about the themes of her first HPO year and whether she sees any links between music and the cultural environment.