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Rautavaara: Aleksis Kivi / Lehtinen, Hynninen, Saarinen

Release Date: 01/21/2003 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1000   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Eeva-Liisa SaarinenMarcus GrothJorma HynninenLasse Pöysti,   ... 
Conductor:  Markus Lehtinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jyväskylä Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 38 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

On its surface this concise, 97-minute opera may not seem like much of a gripping tale: it concerns the poet Aleksis Kivi (né Aleksis Stenvall, 1834-72), who was the founder of literature in the Finnish language. At the time he was writing, Swedish still was the "proper" language among Finns with any intellectual pretensions; Johan Ludvig Runeberg was the country's most famous poet and writer and he wrote in Swedish. The very powerful teacher/poet August Ahlqvist condemned Kivi's writing (Kivi means "stone" in Finnish; "Stenvall" is Swedish for "stone wall") as morally reprehensible, saying that characters in literature should be idealized, not
Read more presented as they really are. Ahlqvist's moralizing and condemnation of Kivi eventually drove the already fragile young Finn to madness; he died insane at age 38. This opera is that story.

Rautavaara scores the work for string orchestra, synthesizer, percussion, and two clarinets, and the writing always is graceful and supportive of the voice. When Kivi (or one of his friends/disciples) is reciting (singing) one of Kivi's poems, it's positively lyrical. Indeed, the scenes with the young, still-idealistic Kivi, his patron Charlotte, and his student Hilda are lovely. A rowdy students' drinking song in Act 2 is as honest and convincing as those in Le damnation de Faust or Tales of Hoffmann. When there is chaos--either mental or actual, as when the mature Kivi is being denounced--the instrumental complement becomes raucous. The clarinets are used brilliantly, from their mellowest depths to a klezmer-like frenzy. When Kivi's mind finally collapses entirely at the close of the third act, the music dissolves into a lunatic cacophony. To call this opera "accessible" is to sell it short; within five minutes we actually care about Kivi, and the music draws us in as well.

The role of the pedant Ahlqvist is given to a speaker, and his tone is never less than arrogant, angry, and hectoring. We hate him and his narrow mind and attitude from the start. The young Kivi and the older, embittered, half mad, and then completely mad Kivi are sung by two different baritones. Jorma Hynninen sings the latter, Gabriel Suovanen the former. Hynninen's voice is drier than previously, but his artistry remains supreme. His singing of the final, beautiful song is as artful and touching as anything you'll hear for some time. Suovanen sounds remarkably like him; his music is more fluid and his cantilena easier, and he, too, is wonderfully expressive.

Lasse Pöysti's Ahlqvist is a study in demonic exclamation--brilliantly spoken. Marcus Groth's half-screamed Runeberg is an amazing indictment. Eeva-Liisa Saarinen as Charlotte, Kivi's patron (who also loves him), is sympathetic and more; her gentleness in their encounters is touching. As the younger student Hilda, Helena Juntunen is fine in a thankless, underdeveloped role. The remainder of the cast is superb and the recorded sound is all you could ask for. Anyone interested in contemporary music-theatre should hear this finely crafted and often lovely work. [11/16/2002]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Aleksis Kivi by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Eeva-Liisa Saarinen (Mezzo Soprano), Marcus Groth (Baritone), Jorma Hynninen (Baritone),
Lasse Pöysti (Spoken Vocals), Helena Juntunen (Soprano), Jaakko Hietikko (Bass),
Gabriel Suovanen (Baritone), Lassi Virtanen (Tenor), Peter Nordman (Baritone),
Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor), Hannu Ilmolahti (Bass), Jeremias Erkkilä (Tenor)
Conductor:  Markus Lehtinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jyväskylä Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995-1996; Finland 
Date of Recording: 04/2002 
Venue:  Suolahti Hall, Lahti, Finland 
Length: 97 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: Finnish 

Sound Samples

Aleksis Kivi: Prologue: Introduction
Aleksis Kivi: Prologue: Mi ikavyys mi hamaryys sieluni ympar, "Ikavyys" (Melancholy) (Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Prologue: Sina! Ei kai nyt sentaan enaa ... (Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Prologue: Arvoisat kuulijat, kunnioitettu auditorium! (Ahlqvist)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Ahlqvist astuu sivulle kateerderiinsa (Ahlqvist, Charlotta, Hilda, Alexis)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Makeasti oravainen makaa sammalhouneessansa, "Laulu oravast" (Song about the Squirrel) (Alexis)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Voi mitten kaunista se olikaan! (Charlotta, Hilda, Alexis)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Nyt hurratkaamme huikeasti huutaen: hurraa! (Junki, Siivo, Kristo, Krasse, Olvi, Alexis, Kuku, Old Pagan)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: No niin, mina voisin onnitellakin ylioppilas Stenvallia (Ahlqvist, Alexis, Charlotta, Hilda)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Siis taytyyko niin olla? Taytyyko oravaisen lopultakin yksin jaada? (Hilda, Alexis, Charlotta)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Niinko siis on - ja lahden minakin? (Alexis)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Niin, Alexis, ehka kuitenkin on paras meidan nyt hyvastella - niin, meidankin (Charlotta, Alexis)
Aleksis Kivi: Act I: Eron hetki on kalveakasvo unien tyhjassa valtakunnassa ... (Charlotta)
Aleksis Kivi: Act II: Herra Professori, ne kaksi naytelmaa ja runokokous ovat parhaat kun koskaan ennen matkaansaatoin ... (Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act II: Missa han on? (Junki, Siivo, Krasse, Kristo, Olvi, Kuku, Old Pagan, Ahlqvist)
Aleksis Kivi: Act II: Niin siis on, etta minulla on vain roskatavaraa (Kivi, Junki)
Aleksis Kivi: Act II: Sinne se meni (Ahlqvist)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Oi maailma, elama, sa ihmeellinen! (Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Silla suon sumusta, tulen loimusta kohoaa loitsu (Mythagos, Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Kas siina heidan kulttuurihenkilonsa! (Ahlqvist, Runeberg)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Nous ylos nummisuutari! (Mikko, Sakeri, Ahlqvist)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Kas kas! (Mikko, Sakeri, Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Mita viela! Kas rikas huone ja rakas huone ne yhtalailla voi vankilaksi muuttua, vankilaksi ... (Kivi, Mikko, Sakeri)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Ah, katovaista on reimu kuin unten hailyva parvi (Mikko, Drinkers)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Terve, ruskee ohranneste! (Kivi, Drinkers)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Astu esiin ilman pelkoa, sina kaunis daami! (Kivi, Charlotta)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Kuka se on? (Kivi, Devil-Ahlqvist)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Nyt niinkuin aamun koitto otsansa loistelee (Chorus, Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Kay sisaan vaan, sa Suomen runotarkin! (Ahlqvist, Public, Runeberg)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Knaakka (Ahlqvist, Runeberg, Public)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Epilogue: Voi en loyda kotiani ... en loyda ... kotiani ... (Kivi, Alexis, Charlotta)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Epilogue: Rauhallisesti! Rauhallisesti vain (Doctor-Ahlqvist, Charlotta, Kivi)
Aleksis Kivi: Act III: Epilogue: Tuonen lehto, oinen lehto!, "Sydameni laulu" (Song of My Heart) (Kivi)

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