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Klami, U.: Kalevala Suite - Aurora Borealis - Cheremis Fantasia

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Customer Reviews

A lesser-known Finnish master

It’s unfortunate how little Finnish orchestral music outside of Sibelius finds its way into American concert halls, but Finnish music has done a lot better on recordings thanks, for the most part, to the Ondine label. It’s safe to say that the music of Uuno Klami (1900-1961) is really not known outside of Finland but this recording of three of his fine orchestral works makes a good introduction composer to a top-notch composer.

If you are expecting the stark power and drama of Sibelius, Klami may not be your man. Truth be told there is more of the color of Ravel and pungency of Stravinsky in the works heard on this recording. The tone poem Northern Lights owes much to Ravel and impresses with its shifts of orchestral colors. A more modern sound—Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was on Klami’s mind –
is heard in the Cheremissian Fantasy, a piece for cello and orchestra. This two movement work shifts from a somberly melodic opening movement to a fiery second movement laced with just a bit of savagery. Klami’s best-known work, Kalevala Suite, rounds out the program and he displays his superb gifts as an orchestrator and as a master of hyper-Romantic nature music.

The performances by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Stogårds are marvelously idiomatic, this music is in their blood and it shows. Cellist Samuli Peltonen is a stand-out in the Cheremissian Fantasy, singing with beautiful full tone in the first movement and burning down the house in the second. The recording has wonderfully natural sound – typical of most Ondine orchestral recordings – and solid liner notes. Take note, Ondine also has recordings of Klami’s symphonies and another disc of tone poems.

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Klami, U.: Kalevala Suite - Aurora Borealis - Cheremis Fantasia, John Storgards
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