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Jukka Linkola: The Journey / Juha Nikkola, Et Al

Release Date: 01/24/2006 
Label:  Alba   Catalog #: 200   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jukka Linkola
Performer:  Olli TuovinenKai HuopainenKari KukkonenHannu Jurmu,   ... 
Conductor:  Juha Nikkola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kymi SinfoniettaKotka Opera Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LINKOLA The Journey ? Juha Nikkola, cond; Hannu Jurmu ( Poet ); Katriina Kerppola ( Laura ); Lise Holmberg ( Matilda ); Peter Nordman ( Mikka ); Hannu Sokka ( Kalle ); Kai Huopainen ( Landlord ); Kari Kukkonen ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Stranger ); Olli Tuovinnen ( Man ); Riikka Pälli ( Goldie ); Jussi Pöllänen ( Taavetti ); Kotka Op Ch (Mauri Silvennoinen, dir); Kymi Sinfonietta ? ALBA 200:1-2 (2 CDs: 107:42 & )

Okay, raise your hands if you know anything about Finnish opera. Actually, I?m sure most of you sophisticated collectors know that Finnish Opera has a long tradition, spiced by European composers, as well as those Russian guys with names ending in y or f . Enduring tyranny and freedom in various cycles throughout its history, Finland has much emotional and epic material to draw upon. And there?s a lot more in the Finnish contemporary music scene than Magnus Lindberg, perhaps the one universally familiar name in Finnish music other than Sibelius. The international contemporary music scene has a bit to learn from the nurturing of new music in Finland, and from the rich musical petri dish Finland has become. So, if that idea turns you on, you might want to check out this Jukka Linkola (b. 1955) opera, a hefty, no-holds-barred, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-extravaganza. By the way, the entire population of Finland is in it.

I?ll issue my usual proviso?it?s difficult to appreciate an opera you haven?t seen, and I haven?t seen this one. Usually, when we listen to an opera CD, we have many reference points?other productions we have seen, other recordings we have listened to, what our grandmothers told us about it?but, with The Journey , unless you?ve been to Finland recently, there will be few, if any, landmarks. However, even without the familiar road signs, it?s easy to appreciate that Finnish opera uses tonality without being afraid to reference everyone from Puccini to Disney. Perhaps there is a Follywood in the making, and I don?t mean that flippantly.

Another obstacle to adequately judging this piece is the libretto, written by Linkola, after the play and novella by Toivo Pekkanen. It?s the land of lyrical poetry, folks, where nothing is as it seems, and there are lines such as ?Awake, awake, the day has dawned, the birds are singing, and the sun is kissing the dewdrops from the petals of the flowers.? Come on, it?s beautiful Finland, after all. But, again, without seeing the stage action that goes along with such poesies, I?m at a loss. So let?s put aside the libretto, which is about a poet?s journey to?I kid you not??the land of dreams.? Instead of blindly mocking the text, let?s try focusing on the music with our ears wide open.

Wow. First of all, it?s unashamedly tonal and lyrical with hardly a nod to the Second Viennese. I have to admit at times I wanted to burst out laughing, which may just be my embarrassment with the apparent naiveté of what appears to be a geographically and culturally isolated Finnish music scene, a kind of Scandinavian Brigadoon. It?s refreshing and unself-conscious music, almost virginal. A shamelessly melodic aria, ?Beautiful Cloud of Sleep,? makes Andrew Lloyd Webber seem, um, like a 12-tone rower. Of course, being Finland, the opera has lush choruses, but instead of nationalism, we are listening to a cry for poetry. The harmony is so open, I thought for a moment I was back at Radio City Musical Hall for the 1956 Easter Show with Rockettes dressed as nuns, and those familiar religious movie cadences. Maybe my publisher will foot the bill for me to go to Finland, and get the real story. But there?s much gorgeous composing here, even if your mind boggles at all the musical allusions?and illusions?an innocent form of plagiarism indeed.

FANFARE: David Wolman
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Works on This Recording

Journey by Jukka Linkola
Performer:  Olli Tuovinen (Bass Baritone), Kai Huopainen (Bass), Kari Kukkonen (Baritone),
Hannu Jurmu (Tenor), Riika Pälli (Soprano), Peter Nordman (Baritone),
Lise Holmberg (Mezzo Soprano), Hannu Sokka (Bass Baritone), Jussi Pöllänen (Baritone),
Katriina Kerppola (Soprano)
Conductor:  Juha Nikkola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kymi Sinfonietta,  Kotka Opera Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 

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