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Thread: Finnish orchestral composer -- greater recognition?

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    Default Finnish orchestral composer -- greater recognition?

    Which Finnish orchestral composer's music most deserves greater recognition? (Sibelius not included)

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Raitio is surely under-recorded, an interesting, early-20th century fellow for sure - wrote stuff like "Moonlight on Jupiter" for orchestra, etc.

    We need more recordings of Per Henrik Nordgren's music, they're all unique and so expensive.

    Kokkonen has been well served by recordings & is probably my favourite besides Rautavaara.

    Melartin, Englund, Palmgren, Kilpinen (no orchestral by him, I think), Madetoja, Rautavaara, Saariaho, Lindberg, Kaipaninen, Salonen have all been reasonably recorded too.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Nov-05-2019 at 20:53.

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Add Aho and Sallinen to that final line and you have a pretty good overview.
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    Raitio is surely under-recorded, an interesting, early-20th century fellow for sure - wrote stuff like "Moonlight on Jupiter" for orchestra, etc.

    We need more recordings of Per Henrik Nordgren's music, they're all unique and so expensive.

    Kokkonen has been well served by recordings & is probably my favourite besides Rautavaara.

    Melartin, Englund, Palmgren, Kilpinen (no orchestral by him, I think), Madetoja, Rautavaara, Saariaho, Lindberg, Kaipaninen, Salonen have all been reasonably recorded too.
    Agree.

    I'll add Aarre Merikanto. His opera "Juha" is glorious and compelling while I find his symphonies and concerti well worth knowing (the second movement "Pieta: Tranquillo" of Piano Concerto III, for instance, is simply sublime).

    I'll also add Toivo Kuula and Kalervo Tuukkanen
    Last edited by Orfeo; Nov-05-2019 at 21:05.
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    There are several who are fairly obscure in my country, the USA. Of the composers who are somewhat known, I can't honestly say that they deserve to be lumped in the company of the great composers. Aho is very prolific but nothing I've heard really strikes me as truly great or unique. He's like the Finnish version of the American, Joseph Schwantner. A fairly benign contemporary tonal composer whose music is unlikely to ruffle any feathers.

    Saariaho, and Lindberg wrote some pieces of interest and vitality earlier in their careers but have been less inspired in recent years. Sallinen, and Salonen are just okay, but nothing spectacular. Rautavaara I haven't listened to enough to form an opinion. Segerstam apparently holds the title for the most symphonies never recorded or heard by anybody. Several hundred are claimed to have been composed.
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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    I have three favourites among those already mentioned:

    Firstly: Aulis Sallinen. He's great! There are some wonderfully beautiful pieces of music from him, especially the earlier operas, a few of the 8 (?) Symphonies, Quartets, and what I see as his masterpiece, the Songs of Life and Death. He has relaxed his style in his later years, in the same sort of way Penderecki has, but the music still remains very personal, and has a genuineness I appreciate.

    Then Leevi Madetoja. The last of his three Symphonies is an utter utter masterpiece, and its predecessor is no slouch either. It probably doesn't "travel well", but the two big operas - Juha, and The Ostrobothnians - are works of a very fine musician indeed.

    Aarre Merikanto. Sterner stuff than equally fine composers like Klami or Kuula. I need to persevere with him.

    I respect Rautavaara, especially his wonderfully beautiful opera Thomas, and ditto Kokkonen for The Last Temptations, but find both hard to fathom in other works. I am very proud of the highly tentative link I have with the former, in that my fantastic cousin commissioned his most famous work!
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Nov-05-2019 at 21:41.

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    Thank you everyone, this is an excellent selection for someone (me) who knows only Sibelius and has very little knowledge of the others.

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    Two other talented composers are Klami and Fagerlund (especially the 2 operas). And I second the raves for Sallinen--the symphonies, the chamber music and, of course, the operas.

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    Aulis Sallinen and Kokkonen are two that I find less recognized than their music seems to justify, at least to me.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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    The only piece I've heard by Fagerlund is his bassoon concerto which I enjoyed. I bought the CD for Aho's bassoon concerto but was more impressed with Fagerlund. But a great disc overall for wind pieces. Includes two solo works as well.
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    Thumbs up

    Here are my favorite Finnish composers:

    Aarre Merikanto
    Vaino Raitio
    Erik Bergman
    Paavo Heininen
    Eero Hameenniemi
    Kaija Saariaho

    Music by the half-dozen above (plus many more besides) deserves wider dissemination.

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    Melartin! I love those six symphonies - tuneful, well orchestrated, exciting. Would make nice additions (or replacement) to some of the tired, worn-out standard repertoire. Wish scores/parts were easier to get.

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    Seppo Pohjola. His symphonies prove to be accesible modern works.

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    I've been actively exploring the music of late 19th, 20th & early 21st Finnish composers over the past several years myself. Like you, I started with Jean Sibelius (back in the 1980s), whose 7 symphonies I rate among the finest in music history.

    Thus far, my favorite Finnish symphony composers (in addition to Sibelius) have proven to be Joonas Kokkonen (via the Oramo, Berglund, & Kamu recordings)--whose 4 Symphonies I rate highly (though they may be an acquired taste), Einar Englund--whose 7 Symphonies I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet (if interested, see YT links below), Einojuhani Rautavaara, Helvi Leiviskä, Pehr Henrik Nordgren, Leevi Madetoja, & Paavo Heininen. I've yet to get to Kalevi Aho, Tauno Marttinen, and Erkki Melartin. Nor have I delved into Aulus Sallinen's symphonies in any real depth, though I have bought the CPO box set, so I plan to at some point. I'm also wondering whether Magnus Lindberg will be composing symphonies in the future--he hasn't yet, but I hope he does. Another student of Rautavaara & Heininen's, Harri Vuori, has composed two symphonies to date (see links below), & Vuori's music interests me, among current Finnish composers:

    Harri Vuori:

    Lintu, Symphony no. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0LeNeAqspc
    Pirilä, Symphony no. 1:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrpZMz28fM4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XDxAnR0zhI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kcUKmzC8dE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-a--ncuQdo

    Pirilä, Symphony no. 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT6i...jtJrkk&index=5

    Joonas Kokkonen:

    Oramo, Symphony no. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywS0oqw3qdA
    Oramo, Symphony no. 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHi-njRcZ0Q
    Oramo, Symphonies nos. 3 & 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGXA...Qep6AM&index=6
    Berglund, Symphonies nos. 1 & 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ow...xx74nps5VMPafU
    Kamu, Symphony no. 4 (frustratingly, it has never been released on CD, only LP): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkPXmUSdwqo

    Pehr Henrik Nordgren:

    Oramo, Symphonies nos. 3 & 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIfm...vNwA_72i1qoFC0
    Kangas, Symphony no. 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2bP_cnZ8cM
    Kangas, Symphony no 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2upbtvkoas

    Einar Englund:

    Symphony no. 1 "War": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpFMoGxatWw
    Symphony no. 2 "The Blackbird": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4TSp5wzUt8
    Symphony no. 3 "Barbarossa": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAumQc2Aoc4
    Symphony no. 4 "Nostalgic": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETZXx8P9t80
    Symphony no. 5 "Fennica": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v54J-MlIcY
    Symphony no. 6 "Aphorism": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRbCpYHjtGw
    Symphony no. 7 (untitled): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuF3gKGgJFo
    Last edited by Josquin13; Nov-06-2019 at 23:55.

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    Thanks again for everyone's recommendations, which are the ones I'm listing! Finland was chosen for its high reputation in composition, and for the feeling that Finnish orchestral composers (apart from Sibelius) are neglected at least in North America. Thinking in terms of dates of birth and quarter centuries, I'll begin with comments on selected orchestral works (including concertos) by the composers below, born 1875-1899. This thread is intended to be selective not comprehensive as the Neglected German/Austrian Composers one was. I'll start with a selection from the following composers and welcome comments on them as well as on other composers and works.

    Finnish orchestral composers born 1875-1899:

    Erkki Melartin 1875
    Selim Palmgren 1878 (concertos)
    Toivo Kuula 1883
    Leevi Madetoja 1887
    Väinö Raitio 1891
    Aarre Merikanto 1893


    Will we answer the OP? joen_cph has already named Väinö Raitio and Per Henrik Nordgren as being "under-recorded."
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Nov-13-2019 at 18:43.

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