Finland 100

On this Saturday afternoon I heard the Philahmonia Northwest (Julia Tai, conductor) do a concert titled "Finland 100", celebrating the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. The Finnish ambassador was in attendance, all the way from DC, and gave a speech in which she pointed out that Finland has found success by investing in its own people. The program:

  • Jean Sibelius: Finlandia, op. 26
    Of course. And the chorus came down the aisles where they sang for their part.
  • Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite, op. 11
    This is a lighter piece, and there are other more intense tone poems by Sibelius that I want to hear, but anyway I had never heard this played live and it was nice.
  • Kaija Saariaho: Leino Songs
    This turned out to be the highlight of the concert for me. The idiom was definitely more challenging and modern, but each of the songs was quite evocative (the Finnish poems and their translations were provided) and the singing of Maria Männistö was great.
  • Heikki Aaltoila: "Akselin ja Elinan häävalssi"
    A droopy slow waltz. Apparently this means something to Finns.
  • "Säkkijärven polkka" arranged by Osmo Vänskä
    This was funny, starting out like orchestra was tuning up. It's arranged from a Finnish folk tune.
  • Einojuhani Rautavaara: Lintukoto (Isle of Bliss)
    The main reason I showed up was to hear music of Rautavaara played live, though I had never heard this piece. It was good, and had interesting scoring, but didn't make a strong impression on me as it turns out. I'll have to find a recording.
  • Jean Sibelius: Oma maa (Our Native Land), op. 92
    I didn't know this one - for orchestra and full chorus.
  • Bonus: Finnish Tango
    I didn't know Finns love the tango, but here you go. Extra musicians joined the orchestra (and chorus) for this one: accordion, piano, guitar, electric guitar. The song was something about an island or something.

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