on 23 July 2013
Unknown to Merikanto?: shame on you! If you'd think the classical music scene in the 20th century was dominated by a certain JJ Sibelius think again. No doubt he was and is the figure to be reckoned with but he isn't all there has been said over there. Some first class composers emerged from Finland over the years: Klami, Madetoja, Pingoud and mr. Merikanto to name a few. Merikanto's second symphony is the main focus hear, subtitles `War Symphony' (WW I that is). Merikanto was 26 when he composed this work and in a state of maniacal episode composing one work after the other. The work opens in a mood of dark exultation, the energy tempered with an awareness of something more sinister at play; a lyrical second subject brings balm and calm, but the development renews the mighty turmoil, gradually achieving a more positive tone. The following scherzo dances with heavy boots, the extended Largo is a seascape over rocking strings, and the Allegro con brio finale returns to the powerful, long-legged enthusiasms of the first movement. Some may find this work thick and over-orchestrated but I'd rather suggest taking a very fine SACD-player and a good pait of headphones. The orchestral song Ekho (1922) is a masterpiece, could be compared with Sibelius' Luonnotar but the other way around is appropriate too. It must be fiendishly difficult to bring of for a singer and Anu Komsi does it here seemingly without any vocal problem. Great support from the Turku Philharmonic under Petri Sakari, too who excel in the symphony. Please try this composer's Juha, one of Finland's greatest operas before the ones composed by Rautavaara. On to a recording of symphonies by Ernest Pingoud please Alba!