Elämälle: Songs by Oskar Merikanto

Elämälle: Songs by Oskar Merikanto

by Jorma Hynninen

CD

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Overview

Elämälle: Songs by Oskar Merikanto

Oskar Merikanto was apparently a very popular composer in Finland during the years around 1900; the booklet notes tell of a Helsinki musician touring the countryside and being asked whether there were any other great composers in Helsinki besides Merikanto. Merikanto made a varied living of the sort undertaken by composers in nascent concert scenes, working as a pianist, church organist, "organ inspector" (whatever that was), conductor, critic, and teacher. He wrote about 150 songs, pleasant, foursquare creations with attractive melodies that have drawn comparisons to Paolo Tosti. They're not quite that far toward the popular end of the spectrum, but they don't sound like Sibelius at all, and they show minimal influence from any composer of German lieder after Schubert. Probably the closest comparison would be Tchaikovsky's songs: imagine the "Nocturne," track 21, in Russian, and you can imagine that Merikanto started from some of the same Tchaikovskian sources Sibelius did, even if he went in a different direction. More is generally happening in the accompaniment than in the vocal line, and baritone Jorma Hynninen and pianist Ilkka Paananen execute the balance here -- simple, sensuous vocal line underlaid by fairly detailed piano part -- very well. The more serious pieces, such as the cycle of four songs "From the Graves, Op. 74" (tracks 11-14), are the most successful, but there are also folk-like pieces (try the slight "Suvi-illan vieno tuuli" [Summer's Evening Breeze], Op. 87/2, track 3) that will stick with you. No one is claiming these songs are lost masterpieces, but singers willing to brave the minefield of Finnish pronunciation should check them out. All texts are in Finnish and English.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/22/2008
Label: Ondine
UPC: 0761195111123
catalogNumber: 1111
Rank: 222195

Tracks

  1. Omenankukat (Apple Blossom), song for voice & piano, Op. 53/1
  2. Linnulle kirkkomaalla (To a Bird in the Churchyard), song for voice & piano, Op. 52/2
  3. Suvi-illan vieno tuuli (Summer Evening's Gentle Breezes), song for voice & piano, Op. 87/2
  4. Muistellessa (Remembering), song for voice & piano, Op. 11/2
  5. Miksi laulan (Why Do I Sing), song for voice & piano, Op. 20/2
  6. Kullan murunen (Thou Art a Nugget of Gold), song for voice & piano, Op. 20/1
  7. Merellä (At Sea), song for voice & piano, Op. 47/4
  8. Myrskylintu (The Thunderbird), song for voice & piano, Op. 30/4
  9. Laatokka (Lake Ladoga), song for voice & piano, Op. 83/1
  10. Iltakellot (Evening Bells), song for voice & piano, Op. 106/1
  11. Haudoilta-sarja (From the Graves), song cycle, Op. 74
  12. Hyvästi (Farewell), song for voice & piano, Op. 87/3
  13. Hyvää yötä (Goodnight), song for voice & piano, Op. 75/1
  14. Hämärissä (In the Twilight), song for voice & piano, Op. 96/1
  15. Elämälle (To Life), song for voice & piano, Op. 93/4
  16. Annina, song for voice & piano, Op. 51/2
  17. Illansuussa (At Nightfall), song for voice & piano, Op. 69/2
  18. Nocturne, song for voice & piano
  19. Balladi (Ballad), song for voice & piano, Op. 69/4
  20. Nuoruuden ylistys (Praise of Youth), song for voice & piano, Op. 69/3
  21. Soi vienosti murheeni soitto (Play Softly, Thou Tune of My Mourning), song for voice & piano, Op. 36/3
  22. Ma elän! (I Am Alive!), song for voice & piano, Op. 71/1

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