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Finnish Music


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Author Topic: Finnish Music  (Read 2445 times)
jowcol
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« on: August 19, 2012, 02:48:53 pm »

"But this is a landscape, Mr. Dali" by Usko Merilainen


Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Solonen Conductor
Radio Broadcast, 26 Sept, 1987

From the collection of Karl Miller

Dissonance Alert


Bio from ClassicalComposers.Org

Music

Usko Meriläinen (b. 1930) has, in his music, been closely involved in the development of post-war Finnish modernism. Neoclassicism, dodecaphony and post-serialism are all documented in his oeuvre, which does not, by contrast, show signs of the return to more traditional stylistic devices evident in the latter half the 1960s and the 1990s. Instead he has remained faithful to his intrinsic modernistic idiom, constantly polishing and refining it.
 
Whatever the style, the music of Meriläinen is always marked by its rhythmic richness. One of the great innovators of his early neoclassicism was Stravinsky, but the later rhythms of Meriläinen, too, have acquired great diversity, ranging from swift, fast-beating movement to a free, rubato-like, elastic pulse. The trend at expressive level seems to have been from the strong beat of the earlier works towards the poetry and daintiness of little gestures. The finely-tuned coloristic dimension of his music has also become increasingly noticeable.

Meriläinen is predominantly a composer of instrumental music, since his entire vocal output consists of one only song cycle and two choral works (admittedly sizeable ones). Meriläinen is a composer of symphonies, other orchestral works, concertos, chamber music and pieces for solo instrument, piano works occupying a focal position in the last of these categories. Instrumental brilliance and a concerto-like approach are in fact major elements of his music, and the word ‘concerto’ also appears in a few other works not scored for the conventional soloist and orchestra.

Meriläinen has also exploited the potential of electronic music. Indeed, his symphony no. 4 is not orchestral music at all, but an ‘electronic symphony’, a dance work performed under the name of Alasin (The Anvil, 1975). He also composed two other electronic dance works, Psyche (1973) and Ku-gu-ku (1979). The choreographies for all three are by his wife, Ruth Matso, herself a dancer.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was a major source of inspiration for Usko Meriläinen, as it was for many other young Finnish composers of the post-war period. Its influence can be detected in his neoclassical early works of the 1950s and is most pronounced in the Partita for Brass (1954) with which he won second prize in the American Thor Johnson composing competition, but it is also marked in the first symphony (1955) and first piano concerto (1955). Here the association with Stravinsky is inspired above all by the rhythms, with their dance-like ostinatos, changing time signatures and syncopation.

Meriläinen’s early neoclassical period culminated in the Concerto for Orchestra (1956), in which he also set a course in the direction of dodecaphony. The idiom is more chromatic, and the canon in the first movement, for example, is built on a 12-note theme. On the other hand the strikingly effective rhythms still create a strongly neoclassical impression. Meriläinen’s first ballet, Arius (1960), also dates from the time leading up to his dodecaphonic period proper.

Meriläinen first became acquainted with dodecaphony at the Darmstadt summer course in 1956, and more deeply two years later while studying with Wladimir Vogel in Switzerland. Not until his first piano sonata (1960) did he actually apply it, however, though the piano texture of this work for the most part has its roots in neoclassicism. Other works of Meriläinen’s brief dodecaphonic period include the Four Love Songs (1961), the Chamber Concerto (1962), the Four Bagatelles for string quartet (1962) compressed into tight, Webern-like figures, and the first string quartet (1965) that brought the period to an end.
The dodecaphonic period was to prove brief, producing only a few works, but it nevertheless had a liberating and invigorating effect on his career as a composer. And although he then abandoned row technique, his music continued to be richly chromatic. Even before writing the string quartet that ended the period Meriläinen had already arrived at a new technique that lead him away from dodecaphony. This began to take shape in the orchestral work Epyllion (1963) and the second symphony (1964) and was adopted as a conscious device in the second piano sonata (1966).

The name given by Meriläinen to the method applied in his second piano sonata is ‘character technique’. This technique comprises three main factors or ‘characters’: ‘tone fields’ manifest as blocks of sound or cascades of notes, melodic ‘lines’, and ‘points’ made up of individual or repeated notes. The details of these characters may change, but their overall shape remains consistent and recognisable. Thus character technique was for Meriläinen a means of giving the music cohesion once he had discarded row technique.

Although the first post-row period has often been called Meriläinen’s Epyllion period, its most weighty orchestral work is the second symphony. The rugged spans of the music have an expressive power that has sometimes caused Meriläinen to be described as a neoexpressionist, but his expressionism cannot really be said to continue in the footsteps of Alban Berg. In the third (1971) and fifth symphonies (1976) the characters begin creating bigger and clearer blocks of sound. A good example of Meriläinen’s way of analysing the development of his music is the third symphony, which is based on two initial motifs with varying development potential: the melodic line on the strings with which the symphony begins and the single-note crescendo that ruptures into dissonance. At the end of the fifth symphony he applies controlled aleatory, a device that occupies an important role in Mobile - ein Spiel für Orchester (1977).

The development of his character technique had a decisive effect on Meriläinen’s piano style, which burst into flower in his second piano sonata. This style was marked by translucent textures, often highlighting the clear upper register, and rich rhythms ranging from improvisational rubato playing to swift, virtuosic dexterity. Meriläinen’s piano style is at its most colourful in the fourth sonata, Epyllion II (1974), which also examines the potential of sounds produced inside the instrument. In addition to five sonatas Meriläinen has provided the instrument with two delicate sets of nocturnes, (Tre notturni, 1967 and Cinque notturni, 1978) and Sona (1997). Scored for two pianos is the divertimento-like Papillons (1969).

The orchestral and pianistic dimensions are combined in three fine soloistic works of this period, only one of which, the second piano concerto (1969) of energetic brilliance working up to an aggressive climax, goes by the traditional name of a concerto. Dialogeja (Dialogues, 1977) seeks to establish a balanced discussion between the soloist and the orchestra, while the very title of Kineettinen runo (Kinetic Poem, 1981) suggests the movement typical of Meriläinen’s work. In this case the kinetic aspect does, however, take the form of a kind of objectified movement rather than a dynamic source of energy proper, carrying the process forward.

Since the late 1970s the emphasis in Meriläinen’s music has been shifting more towards chamber music. At the same time he has more and more frequently been examining the subtlety of little meditative gestures and the fragile tones of silence. On the other hand there may be ominous forces smouldering beneath the surface of his quiet meditation that sometimes erupt in violent outbursts. The coloristic dimension has also become increasingly important. The rhythm is generally as rich as ever but is often more refined than it used to be. For example, the second string quartet, Kyma (1979), for the most part abandons conventional bar notation and the players no longer need always to be carefully synchronised.

Within a short period in the mid-1980s Meriläinen wrote three important flute works that looked back to the Suvisoitto (Summer Sounds) for flute and tape. One of the most captivating works ever written by Meriläinen in its musicianship and speed, Summer Sounds was completed in 1979. The works of the flute period proper include the clear, transparent study of timbre Huilu - veden peili (The Flute - Mirror of Water, 1984) for flute and piano, Mouvements circulaires en douceur (1985), a work scored for the unusual combination of four flutes and full of the poetry of silence, and the flute concerto Visions and Whispers (1985) in which the flute embroiders brilliant, nimble patterns against a quiet background of sound painted by the orchestra.

The change of direction towards the poetry of small movements is also manifest in the orchestral work "...mutta tämähän on maisema, monsieur Dali!" (...but this is a landscape, monsieur Dali!, 1986) and Aikaviiva (Timeline, 1989), the latter subtitled ‘concerto for orchestra no. 2’. The concerto-like dimensions of Timeline are most in evidence in the lively wind writing, for which the strings provide a static backcloth. In Kehrä (A Score for Orchestra, 1996), by contrast, the strings dominate and call to mind the crystallised gestures of Webern, especially in the opening section scored for strings alone.
In the guitar concerto (1991) the soft sound of the solo instrument was enough to mould the orchestration, stripping it of any grandeur in favour of a diaphanous texture. In describing his third string quartet (1992) Meriläinen speaks of ‘the wonder of sound’, an expression that could well be applied to many of his other works of the 1990s: "The work is a continuum on which the quick and at times violent substance of the opening is transformed into slow, gentle movement, immobility, doing full justice to the wonder of sound." This ‘wonder of sound’ is emphasised in the marking found in the the final section, "as slow as you feel possible".

Life
Usko Meriläinen studied at the Sibelius Academy, orchestral conducting with Leo Funtek (diploma 1953) and composition with Aarre Merikanto (diploma 1955). He was conductor of the chorus of the Finnish Opera 1954-1956, the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra 1956-1957 and the orchestra of the TTT-Theatre of Tampere 1957-1961, and taught in the Department of Musicology at the University of Tampere 1966-1987. He was also Vice Chairman of the Society of Finnish Composers 1976-80 and Chairman 1981-1982, and Artistic Director of the Tampere Biennale new music festival 1986-2000.

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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 12:11:33 pm »

Two Symphonies by JOONAS KOKKONEN (1921-1996):


Symphony No. 2  (1960-61)  (22:31)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor
(Yes!  I found movement descriptions!)
1   Adagio, Non Troppo    8:08    
2   Allegro    4:20    
3   Andante    6:21    
4   Allegro Vivace    3:16    
(Note: All tracks are in the same MP3 File)

Symphony No. 4  (1971)  (20:43)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Okko Kamu, conductor

1      Moderato    7:24    
2      Allegro    5:19    
3      Adagio    7:37    
(Note: All tracks are in the same MP3 File)

Source:
Label:BIS – LP 189
Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:Sweden
Released:1980

This rip and upload were originally on Symphony Share.  I had appeneded the individual tracks into single MP3 files for my own use, and these are the ones I have uploaded. I may have also "normalized' the volume.  Members of Symphony Share can (hopefully) still retrieve the original files.

For the record, I would also include Kokkonen's 4th Symphony in my (admittedly large) collection of favorite 20th century Symphonies-- it has as similar air of "mystery" as latter Vaughan Williams Symphonies.  There are two other performances of the 4th commercially available, and I have the BIS CD release of one of the others.  But this one is my favorite of the 2.

Wikipedia Bio:
Joonas Kokkonen (  pronunciation (help•info)) (November 13, 1921 – October 2, 1996) was a Finnish composer. He was one of the most internationally famous Finnish composers of the 20th century after Sibelius; his opera The Last Temptations has received over 500 performances worldwide, and is considered by many to be Finland's most distinguished national opera.
   
Life
He was born in Iisalmi, Finland, but spent the latter of his life in Järvenpää at his home, which was known as "Villa Kokkonen", drawn by Alvar Aalto and finished in 1969. He served in the Finnish army during World War II with great distinction. He received his education at the University of Helsinki, and later at the Sibelius Academy, where he afterwards taught composition; his students there included Aulis Sallinen. In addition to his activities as a composer, he made a significant and powerful impact on Finnish cultural life, serving as a chairman and organizer, heading organizations such as Society of Finnish Composers, the Board of the Concert Centre, and others. His purpose was always to improve music education, as well as the status and appreciation of classical music as well as Finnish music. In the 1960s and early 1970s he won numerous prizes for his work. He was appointed to the prestigious Finnish Academy upon the death of Uuno Klami. His composition activity slowed down greatly after the death of his wife and increased alcohol consumption. He had long planned a Fifth Symphony but it died with him.

The date of his death has been variously reported as October 1, 1996 (New Grove Dictionary, and various internet sources); October 2, 1996 (many internet sources, including the Finnish Music Center); and October 20, 1996 (New Grove Dictionary of Opera). According to his biographer Pekka Hako, he died on October 2, in the early hours of the day.[1]

Music and influence

Even though he studied at the Sibelius Academy, he was mainly self-learned in composition. Usually his compositions are divided into three style periods: a neo-classical early style from 1948 to 1958, a relatively short middle period twelve-tone style from 1959 to 1966, and a late "neo-Romantic" style of free tonality which also used aspects of his earlier style periods, which began in 1967 and lasted for the rest of his life.

Most of his early music is chamber music, and includes a Piano Trio and a Piano Quintet; the style is contrapuntal and influenced by Bartók, but looks back to Renaissance and Baroque models as well. In the second style period he wrote the first two of his four symphonies. Although he used twelve-tone technique, he avoided orthodoxy by occasionally using triads and octaves; he also liked to use the row melodically, giving the successive pitches in the same tone color (many other composers of 12-tone music split the row between different voices).

In the third style period Kokkonen wrote the music that made him internationally famous: the last two symphonies, the ...durch einen Spiegel for twelve solo strings, the Requiem, and the opera The Last Temptations (1975) (Viimeiset kiusaukset), based on the life and death of the Finnish Revivalist preacher Paavo Ruotsalainen. The opera is punctuated with chorales which refer back to Johann Sebastian Bach, and which are also reminiscent of the African-American spirituals used for a similar purpose in Michael Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time. The opera was staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1983.

List of Compositions

Orchestral
•   Music for String Orchestra (1957)
•   Symphony No. 1 [1960)
•   Symphony No. 2 (1960-61)
•   Opus Sonorum (1964)
•   Symphony No. 3 (1967)
•   Symphonic Sketches (1968)
•   Symphony No. 4 (1971)
•   Inauguratio (1971)
•   "...durch einem Spiegel" (1977)
•   Il passagio (1987)
•   Symphony No. 5, unfinished (1982-96?)


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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 07:21:59 pm »

Each time I try to download the Sulho Ranta  Sinfonia Piccola, I have a warning (first time ever) that it contains a virus.  Has anyone else encountered this?  I am afraid to download it but I would really like to have it.  I have Norton and Malware anti-virus systems but still feel like it is dangerous to download!  What say ye?  Malito
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2012, 02:17:20 pm »

Occasionally I've had similar problems at UC and today it happened here with Ion Dumitrescu's Symphonic Prelude.
But I will try again tomorrow. Most likely it's not a virus- or malware problem but something relating to the mediafire software. Eric explained it over there at UC I think.
Try it another time, malito, and tell me if it happened again!
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 02:53:16 am »

Hi, Britishcomposer!  I finally just braved it and it worked fine so I don't know what was going on...the things I do for my music!  Thanks for responding!  Much appreciated!  Malito
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 08:03:13 pm »

Thank you, MVS, for your re-upload of Salmenhaara's wonderful Symphony no. 4, and you, Colin, for your upload of Aho's Concerto for two cellos Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2013, 12:24:29 am »

Salmenhaara Symphonies 2, 3 and 5 duly loaded.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 12:33:04 am »

I have justactivated the account and all the links should work now.
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2013, 12:46:18 am »

They can be downloaded now.....yes. But-unfortunately-they do not play/work Sad

As Elroel pointed out, each file is, apparently, 44kb.
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2013, 12:55:24 am »

Mrs. Tapiola here. I've been trying to help him with this, but we're not familiar with MediaFire or uploading music to the web. Could the issue be that we're uploading direct from a music CD, vs. MP3 files? Do they need to be converted first?
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2013, 01:21:12 am »

Mrs. Tapiola here. I've been trying to help him with this, but we're not familiar with MediaFire or uploading music to the web. Could the issue be that we're uploading direct from a music CD, vs. MP3 files? Do they need to be converted first?


Yes, you must use some sort of CD ripping software to rip the CD to mp3 (or whatever format you like). I assume you just tried to drag and drop the files, which does not work for ripping CDs.
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2013, 03:32:42 am »

Indeed. That is precisely the issue.

As I said elsewhere, Audacity converts to mp3 format which can then be uploaded and then successfully downloaded.

Please do NOT give up though Smiley Members here will be more than happy to talk/guide you through what is-I promise you-not an impossibly difficult process Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2013, 04:02:08 am »

Thank you for all the help.  We will tackle this tomorrow when Mrs. comes home from work.
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 11:20:03 pm »

If I may venture a suggestion for uploading those pesky Salmenhaara files, Tapiola --

There is an excellent program available for download and a 15-day free trial called Switch Sound File Converter. If you use that and simply convert your CD tracks to MP3 files (or whatever other format you wish), then those converted tracks can be easily uploaded to Mediafire.

I'm sure there are other programs that work equally well, but I have experience with this one and find it very useful.
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 02:56:58 pm »

Despite his qualification- I would wish to thank SBookman for uploading the Salmenhaara compositions originally generously provided by Tapiola on cd-r Smiley
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