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TraneSpirit332 (Finland)

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Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £13.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A treat for the 'modern folk' or modern accordeon music lover!, 27 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Iho (Audio CD)
Introduction: "Iho" means "skin" in Finnish and this is truly straight and honest music! This disc dates from a period [late 1990's] of M. Kalaniemi when she was rather much in the [Finnish] media; the best and most famous record of that period is definitely 'Ahma'. Both 'Ahma' and this are recommended as the shortcomings of this disc - the clearly lower production values compared to its [aforementioned] successor - are forgivable.

The music: The songs range from the happy summertime feelings of the first track ['Napoleon'] to the faster pace of 'Lomasävel' [lit. "rest-tone" i.e. "non-chord note" in Finnish] and 'Sofias flykt' ["The escape/flight of Sofia" in Swedish]; the rest is mostly relaxed yet varied music from piece to piece with a peacefully moving character unifying the experience. There's at least a hint of melancholy in this music throughout, but many of the songs are of the sunny-happy category that make you remember positive things from your life. Some interest in the modern Scandinavian neo-folk music [e.g. Värttinä] would surely help tuning into this, but many would like this from a 'music-no-labels'-perspective.

About M. Kalaniemi: It should be said that Maria Kalaniemi - with Kimmo Pohjonen - definitely is the most famous 21st century Finnish [or Nordic] accordeonist. Both have been pushing the music to new directions, but Kalaniemi is certainly the more traditional of the two. Her Finnish-Swedish roots come through in the choice of songs and in the Swedish language names for some of her own compositions. One of the most famous musicians to come from the Helsinki's Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, Kalaniemi shows with her music what kind of results can be achieved by modern academic teaching of folk music: the result is not a museum art of sustained old forms, but something really new - and _still_ something with the feeling and heart of the music's historic people!!

Recommended: to people interested in modern accordeon, _modern_ Scandinavian folk music, highly curious "world" music or just good quality music that might give you surprises.

Madetoja: Orchestral Works
Madetoja: Orchestral Works
Price: £10.52

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost all the classics from this remarkable Finnish composer, 27 Oct. 2014
This could be the best ever compilation of L. Madetoja's - the most important Finnish composer-contemporary of Sibelius - works, for the following reasons:

1) there is only one composed work, the opera 'Juha' (1934), from Madetoja's "officially" most significant output that is _not_ (in part or in whole) featured here. The three symphonies are - of course - in full but there are also very good suites from both 'Okon Fuoko' [a ballet] and the Finnish National Opera 'Ostrobothnians' [='Pohjalaisia'] giving glimpses of Madetoja's boldest [the firstly mentioned] and possibly most significant work [the other]. The tune 'Song of the Prisoner' [='Vangin laulu', orig. folk s. 'Tuuli se taivutti...' = 'The Wind it Bent...'] is a powerful example of a dark-minded and slow-but-furious Ostrobothnian folk song and how that kind of strong, time-tested melodies could be best treated within the symphonic context. This is one of the principal themes of the opera and should be taken as a prime example of the constructing of a powerful symphonic impression.

2) the orchestra [Iceland Symphony Orchestra] and the way it is conducted [Petri Sakari] are nearly perfect! I should note, that this reviewer has possible never before heard such good orchestral percussionists as on these discs [listen to the perfect command of the snare drum on 'Okon Fuoko' pt. IV]. However, the composer hasn't augmented the role of the percussion instruments [this is not Kalevi Aho!] and, on the other hand, _everything_ in these recordings work superbly from the strings to the brass. This is one of the sharpest, clearest, strongest and purest performances of symphonic classical music I've ever heard on disc, which is also due to e.g. the finale to the First Symphony, or even more, to the whole of the Second - a symphony of "beauty, nature, war and resignation" [from the liner notes].

To conclude, I would like to recommend this marvellous collection to all lovers of Western classical music, even those who have previous exposure to the works of Leevi Madetoja. The music is so great, and there is a highly personal master's touch to be found in all three respects - the composer, the orchestra and the conductor - of the musical content.

All Our Reasons
All Our Reasons
Price: £15.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful yet varied and sharp jazz for the ECM listener, 27 Oct. 2014
This review is from: All Our Reasons (Audio CD)
This disc would've been great even as a trio by Hart, Turner and the bass player Ben Street. However, Ethan Iverson plays good - well-contoured and strong - harmonies and fits in, but somehow also breaks the - possibly even more expressive - image. It's Iverson's impressionistic parts backed by Hart's mallet or brush drumming that sound greatly like "a typical ECM-style". Only in one piece ['Nigeria'] does Iverson play with any faster touch.

The compositions are very varied and un-formulaeic, shaped with highly creative imagination, played very exactly _and_ with emotion. The music might sound "sterile" for some, but then, this is super-produced art-jazz at its best. High production values can be good and bad at the same time, ranging from high-audiophile sounds and sharpest possible playing to some uniformal idiomatic sound world of the producer. All of that has happened here.

Like said, this music would've been possibly stronger without the pianist. Now there's a sense of landscape music, which is not what the tenor, bass and drums seem to be mostly wanting to do. It seems that the piano calms this music down to some kind of slowly advancing, introverted and contemplative mood - in contrast to the more complex rhytmical overall feeling implied by esp. the drums and the bass.

The only faster composition, Mark Turner's 'Nigeria', still sounds restrained and like the other pieces - played too quietly. The only drum solo in this recording [ibid.] is great, but makes no wild impression.

Recommendations: If you want 1) modern jazz impressionism 2) within the classic quartet format and 3) highly produced and idiomatic [= ECM-typical] sound world with 4) highly modern and spacy playing and, finally, all in a 5) highly creative yet very restrained playing and compositional style(s), THEN buy this and you will like it.

Decacorde: Preludi, Fantasia,
Decacorde: Preludi, Fantasia,
Price: £22.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful yet delicate touch on the decacorde, 12 May 2014

Straight from the beginning of [modern Finnish composer] Pekka Jalkanen's hard-picked harmonic note and the soon thereafter introduced explodingly powerful and fast arpeggios, you note that Mari Mäntylä really has some technical excellence of her instrument! Throughout the recording the touch on the strings is so strong, most accurate and extremely desicive. The three Jalkanen premiéres are possibly the most interesting part here, since they contain the most of the drama, but the highly classic (= much played) Bach and Dowland pieces are performed with [almost] the same strength and precision, as well.

This could be the only recording of solo music for this 'decacorde'-named instrument. The gold in this product is not just the semi-exotic sound of this guitar-with-four-added-bass-strings, but definitely most of all in the performances full of lyrical power to the highest extent. I've seldom if ever heard [classical] guitar played with this strength and clarity, and surely this is not just because of the added bass strings! The interpretations are masterful, and excel both in the fast [Bach: Presto / Gavotte II] and the slow movements [Bach: Sarabande]. Of course, there is no such thing as perfection in this universe, but I would like to give a highest class valuation to Mari Mäntylä the decacorde player! She has achieved such a skill of her instrument that it is truly a mark of a master.

The pieces are great [yet overtly popular, ex. Jalkanen's compositions], the sound as well as the playing is excellent, and there is historic value here.

Definitely recommended for ones into classical guitar, classical solo music in general, or simply beautiful music that gives you challenges but is not actually difficult.

Vision Of Peace - The Art Of Ravi Shankar
Vision Of Peace - The Art Of Ravi Shankar
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £16.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Buy 'Ravi Shankar - The Master' instead!, 12 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First: 'Homage to Baba Allauddin' / rAga Hemant [DISC#1, "bonus" track] is _the best_ Ravi Shankar rAga performance on disc _I've_ ever heard, though I've heard them so many! Especially the tabla sounds [both aurally and rhythmically] so majestic and almost better than _any_ tabla player or tabla sound ever. In this Hemant, also Ravi performs the most virtuosic-emotional combination of playing that would've been hard to surpass even by himself! Actually, this Hemant _almost_ overshadows the utmost mastery of Ali Akbar Khan in his rendition of this spring melody in 'Then & Now' [DISC#2].

About the titles: The first recording is originally called 'Towards the Rising Sun', with the Indo-Japanese collaboration part named 'East Greets East'. The second disc is originally 'The Spirit of India'. These are presumably out of print, but there is a 3CD set ['Ravi Shankar - The Master'], which contains these two plus 'Homage to Mahatma Gandhi' for a very reasonable prize. You should definitely consider that set over this.

About disc#1: Besides the ultimate masterpiece dedicated to guru Allauddin Khan, the first disc alternates between boring and highly uplifting. The playing in the first, a koto solo piece, is not much to mention, as I've heard better koto playing from no-name CD:s bought from discount sale baskets. However, the whole band - koto player included - awakens to life in the marvellous third track. The Alla Rakha solo piece is of guaranteed quality and the Indo-duo 'Tribute to Nippon' is great, too. The Shakuhachi-tabla duo number 'Namah Shivaya' is decent, but not that great. It seems that Japan could've had better to offer, but still 'East Greets East' is a good offering as a curiosity.

About disc#2: There's not much to say about the second disc. If you buy the aforementioned 3CD set, this is definitely the least good of those. The disc is actually not at all bad, except that the tabla plays so _boringly_ simple and straight-ahead. Nothing like wild interplay present, which I concider a prerequisite for a great Indian art music piece.

Summary: This is a good collection especially of Ravi Shankar's mastery, but you should buy the aforementioned 3CD set, which is even cheaper. More value for your money, especially as it is a Deutche Grammophon release.

P.S. JhaptAl = 2+3+2+3 (10 beats) / ektAl 4+4+2+2 (12 beats) / tintAl 4+4+4+4 (16 beats).

Price: £15.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh sounding free jazz mood music par excellence!, 5 May 2014
This review is from: Approaching (Audio CD)
[A revised review:]

Epilogue: This recording is just what the name implies! The music is "free" and free-flowing, with a sensibility of a seafare with all its twists and turns of weather and the feeling of 'approaching' something distant. You get drawn inside an atmosphere of constant re-evaluation and change, as well as prolonged staying in a single mood of awaiting what's next. The drama, the strong emotions are there.

The melodies, rhythms and harmonies: Esa Pietilä (t. sax.), the leader, has never on disc played this good! In case you don't know anything of Esa Pietilä, check his playing at a 'tube video of him improvising on Bach's Chaconne (rec. Järvenpää 2010). The tenor lines on this disc are long, flowing like the wind as well as very melodic and singing. The double bass [A. Lötjönen] and the drums [the great O. Louhivuori from Tomasz Stanko's quintet] are full of drive, be it direct or hidden. If you can hear rhythmic diversity where it is, regardless of how loud [or with what kind of strokes] it is played, you should like Louhivuori's drumming very much here. There is straighter [yet equally inventive] comping plenty, as well, but this recording overall is a very curious piece!

The best of this _great_ band, after Pietilä, must be Aki Rissanen, the pianist. He makes the record sound more "jazz" than it would otherwise be. He's a great virtuoso and master of getting into whatever style a piece contains. But so are the others. Actually, I've never heard piano fitting so good into a free jazz orchestra, despite the fact that e.g. Marilyn Crispell [with Anthony Braxton] and Cecil Taylor have been definitely more complex, but it is the melody here! The piano on this disc is such a pleasure to hear in its accessible singing quality, that you're really left longing for more.

A conclusion: The whole of the recording, be it directly or indirectly powerful, in strong move or in a calm, is very accessible. The music is mostly improvised, but the musicians play so _together_ that it's a rare treat. Every piece has a different mood (=variety), but still there is a combining general feeling (=unity). Whatever it is, it's great, emotional, drammatic and highly delicate and powerful music - without being too difficult.

Recommended for ones who'd like moody and masterful free jazz that's not too hard to listen to.

Then And Now
Then And Now
Price: £26.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of the best of musical India, a highest mastery of sarod & tabla, 5 May 2014
This review is from: Then And Now (Audio CD)
This could be the best choise for your only Ali Akbar Khan recording, but if you have others of him, you could love this even more. Besides the first disc's high historic value, the whole of the 2CD content is as great as great music can get.

DISC#1: "Then". This is the "pure India" part of this 2CD set. At the stage of this recording session, A. A. Khan was just _about_ to be released of his father's mental grip, i.e. in a state where he still sounds like a person not _interpreting_, but more or less derivatively 'passing on his tradition' to listeners in the newly [1955] contacted Western world. He creates melodies and rhythms of his tradition more than of his own personality, which is a choise Western musicians sometimes make voluntarily [favouring composition-over-personal-interpretation]. Ali Akbar Khan might be under a huge burden here, but: the result is stunning, masterful creative outburst, in which the tradition of North Indian Art Music shines!! The improvisation-factor does not counter the total submission to culture, for the personality here is only a servant of a "greater" cause. If you want to hear what TRUE India is all about, listen to this. The tablaist Chatur Lal plays great throughout with his clarity, virtuosity and creative genius. Surely a treat to the purist.

DISC#2: "Now". Ali Akbar Khan is "himself" - a highly creative, virtuosic genius with respect to his tradition, now liberated from his father's power. The playing is gentle, but with energy. The first rAga, 'Hemant', is a most beautiful invocation of the spring, suitable for listening in everywhere in the world in the first steps of the coming summertime. The 'wonder' of spring and the 'peace' come clearly through, as do [to a lesser extent] 'pathos' and 'joy'. The performance is rather succesful, but...

The next piece, an Ali Akbar Khan fusion-rAga, 'Hindol-Hem', is performed with _such a skill_ that you're left wondering - which did you like the more, the melodic idea or the performance of it?!!! Here could possibly be the best 'sangat' [=improvised rhythmic unison playing] you can find in recorded North Indian Classical Music. Look for Zakir Hussain with other maestros as well [H. Chaurasia, J. McLaughlin, etc.] - you won't be disappointed!

SUMMARY: This set is a combination of a great and historically a most significant studio performance from 1955 and even better concert material from 1994. Both cases serve their roles perfectly - you want "historic India" / you want "modern HindustAni master music" -> here you got 'em both!

_Buy this while you can_ if you're even slightly interested in North Indian "Classical" Music.

Passing On The Tradition
Passing On The Tradition
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Good music from a master who's done it better elsewhere, 5 May 2014
The first piece is an alAp (and jor) only from a sandhi-prakash-rAga [a rAga of the twiligt time] Marwa, which is rather difficult for the player and the listener alike. Ali Akbar Khan plays it with certainty and contour, but e.g. another great master Ram Narayan has performed this with much more mood [bhava] and character [e.g. WERGO 1994 - out of print]. The content of Khanshahib's playing _is_ moody to a satisfactory level, but not as energetic as in his best performances.

The second rAga, PuriyA KalyAn, is equally satisfactory of the sarod, but... the tablaist Swapan Chaudhuri keeps his creativity down for the first 18 minutes, only after which he starts to display _some_ long-awaited 'sangat'. With Zakir Hussain, you wouldn't have had to wait [check. e.g. Ali Akbar Khan: 'Then & Now' DISC#2, 1994]. The rest of the piece is a fine work of interplay along the lines of the rAga, but then - it ends in a fade-out before the second gat and a nonpublished move to the more interesting rhythm of jhaptal.

This is not the best of Ali Akbar Khan records out there, mostly I would like to guide you to the masterful 'Then & Now' [2CD] and let that take you [with its listed discography] wherever it would. Look for Zakir [Hussain] as the accompanist!

Summary: This _is_ master's music, but not as good as it could've been, from this soloist.

Travel Guide
Travel Guide
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.79

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressionistic & peaceful guitar trio recording with strong shades of Metheny, 1 May 2014
This review is from: Travel Guide (Audio CD)
From the ultra-simple background rhythm of the first piece, once W. Muthspiels's electric guitar arrives, in come the shades of Pat Metheny at his non-virtuosic best. Actually - with the basic Towner mentality - _that_ dominates much of this recording.

The pieces alternate of Towner to Muthspiel, but as much there is a general compositional distinction between the two, the whole mood is very unified.

Towner gets the most solo space and dominates the recording, but I hear so many shades of the aforementioned P. Metheny [hear Towner's 'The Prowler' from 'Anthem' / ECM 2001 and compare it with 'Midwestern Nights Dream' from Metheny / ECM 1976] here that it must be some kind of a 'sign of the times', I think. We can't think of Towner, the leader of the project, being nearly as popular as Metheny, these days, can we? This is not to say there is an intentional imitation, just an influence of some kind. Towner still sounds like himself, its just the general feeling and Muthspiel's style.

Notable is also Muthspiel's very ECM-like _singing_ [in 'Amarone Trio'], because it brings beautiful and unique shades and balance to the whole work. The most lively piece on the record is likewise W. M.'s 'Nico und Mithra', a R. T. composition 'Travel Guide' being another of rhythmic liveliness, both in composition and performance. Otherwise the mood is rather calm yet highly expressive.

To sum: this recording consists of somewhat Metheny-sounding composition/performances from Towner & Muthspiel, with S. Grigoryan mostly comping. The whole of the music is in a personal way like a guitar trio answer to the mood of P. M.'s first solo record 'Bright Size Life'. As much as this is a group of Ralph Towner domination, the combined result sounds more like a mysterious reference to this other personality than a work of "pure" / historic Towner-style.

Conclusion: recommended for ones who could like highly expressive, "impressionistic", [partly] Metheny-influenced, acoustic/electro-acoustic, mostly non-virtuosic guitar trio music.

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Symphony No. 7, Piano Concerto
Erkki-Sven Tuur: Symphony No. 7, Piano Concerto
Price: £12.86

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A master's work of both musically and morally meaningful content, 1 May 2014
This I prefer in the New Series to _most_ other ECM releases - good liner notes. The text by Paul Griffiths is though-provoking and informative. I wish _all_ ECM discs had the same attention to verbal packaging as these discs. However, I also wish they got rid of that horrible overuse of physical material. Who needs that cardboard?

Erkki-Sven Tüür truly is a master composer, I would rate him possibly even higher than e.g. another of the same kind of stature and an ex-ECM New Series artist, Jörg Widmann. Unlike Widmann's most recent, dimmed un-ethical programmatic work [Violin Concerto et. al. / Ondine 2013], this work by Tüür is the exact opposite. In his 7th Symphony and Piano Concerto Tüür gives the listener a high moral uplift and life-affirmation in two cases of wholesome - intelligent _and_ ethical - genius.

The Piano Concerto can be described most concisely as being a work full of _natural atmosphere_. The notes from the piano sound like water droplets falling to a surface, or then, like a shimmering rays of sunshine through the mist of recently ceased rain; the [metallic] percussion and the strings create a feeling of rainbows and a late summer's storm with its after-effects, respectively. The piece ends with dramatic array of moods from Mahlerian and Sibelian tensions to something really mind-enwidening! If you could sense the same as I did when listening to this last building and resolution of musical drama, you'd be for a moment a very happy human being!

The Symphony - it sings! The choir is a bit tame, in many parts, but there _are_ beautiful melodic-harmonic moments to be found there, as well. The fitting of melody/harmony with text is sometimes unsuccesful [e.g. Hendrix' words], sometimes marvellous. After Gandhi's "an eye for an eye..." w/ tame chorus _the orchestra_ really duplicates the basic content of the powerful words!

The texts are a marvellous combination of supreme Indian ethical content ["Siddhartha" Gautama on the top], added with St. Augustine & Mother Theresa plus Jimi Hendrix, who's never been in this intelligent environment, and possibly has never said anything more wise than his highly contentuous words here.

There was no "modern jazz" at the ending of the Piano Concerto, but there sure is great 'progressive rock'-type of playing of the drum set at the end of the third and fourth movements of the 7th. Only the drum rolls are missing!

Summary: Both compositions are great, some lack of fire in the choral writing only. The orchestra, the conductor and Laura Mikkola are _so_ great. I can't find a single point of complain of their performances. The choir of NDR could've been a bit stronger in sound.

Recommended for friends of modern classical, Erkki-Sven Tüür, ECM or simply highly beautiful and meaningful-to-life music.

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