Metsan Poika (“On the Fields of Tapiola”) = Works of KUULA, HAKOLA, RANTA, SVUO, NAYKKI – Jorma Hynninen/ Ostrobothnia Ch. Orch./ Juha Kangas – Alba

by | Sep 17, 2013 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Metsan Poika (“On the Fields of Tapiola”) = TOIVO KUULA/ KIMMO HAKOLA: 12 South Ostrobothnian Folk Songs; TOIVO KUULA/ SULHO RANTA: Prelude, Op. 16b/1; Intermezzo, Op. 16b/2; KIMMO HAKOLA: Kivi Songs; TOIVO KUULA/ PEKKA HELA SVUO: The Song of the Sea, Op. 11/2; TOIVO KUULA/ JUHO NAYKKI: Wedding March, Op. 3b/2 – Jorma Hynninen, baritone/ Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/ Juha Kangas, conductor – ALBA multichannel SACD ABCD 348, 62:39 [Distr. by Albany] ***1/2:

Despite the excellent surround sound and terrific singing, I suspect that this disc will have a limited audience except for those interested in the exotic and little known. Toivo Timoteus Kuula (7 July 1883 – 18 May 1918) was a Finnish conductor and composer who also had the honor of becoming the very first composition student of Jean Sibelius. Most of his output consists of songs and choral pieces, and he was instrumental in capturing Finnish folk music as well. If that wets your appetite then this album might be for you.

Kimmo Hakola is a modern day Finnish composer, and he has taken some of the songs of Kuula and presented them in orchestral guise, the South Ostrobothnian Folk Songs a fine example of the long years of collecting Kuula spent. A few other pieces on this disc are set by others as well, all arranged from choral music for string orchestra. Hakola himself is responsible for the fine Kivi Songs, based on the poems of Aleksis Kivi, and the piece is simple and diatonic, quite unlike some of the composer’s other music, but fitting in well with the theme of this disc.

Jorma Hynninen sings these with obvious love and devotion, and I can’t imagine them done better. What I can imagine is another more varied program, as this one is for devotees of the genre, and a sampling would have been better for the rest of us instead of full baptismal immersion. Nevertheless, musicality is high and the surround sound is excellent, so if an hour of this appeals then by all means give it a try.

—Steven Ritter

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