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Siita Tuntee Joulun - A Finnish Christmas / Sorsa, Raiskio, Lehto, Heikkilä, Et Al


Release Date: 11/25/2008 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1747   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  James PierpontAnonymousTraditionalJohn Frederic Coots,   ... 
Performer:  Petri LehtoJussi MiilunpaloUlla RaiskioPauli Pietiläinen
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony OrchestraLaulupuu Choir Lahti
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is not at all what I expected, nor is it a typical BIS production. Perhaps the best way of introducing it is to quote from the record company’s website:

With the exception of a few misguided Swedes, we all know that Santa Claus lives in Finland. So what could be more fitting than a disc of Finnish Christmas classics, in lavish orchestral arrangements performed by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, only 240 miles south of Santa’s home in Rovaniemi.

Now “lavish orchestral arrangements” is no exaggeration! There’s plenty of percussion – wood block, xylophones, tambourines and other jingly things – plus a liberal helping of harp, rich brass and soaring strings. Most of the music is sung by the Laulupuu Choir, a
Read more group based in Lahti and made up of young people between the ages of ten and seventeen, but there are some solos too, as well as purely orchestral pieces. The repertoire is made up of arrangements of traditional material, some original light pieces plus works from more conventionally classical composers, but for quite a long time I seemed to be listening to a disc of extracts from musical comedies rather than specifically Christmas music.

There is some superb saxophone playing from Jukka Perko in the fourth piece, a work by Madetoja about which this listener would have liked more help from the accompanying notes. This is a complaint one might level against the disc as a whole, interesting and fun though the booklet essay is. Perko appears again in Irving Berlin’s evergreen White Christmas, in the arrangement of Sibelius’s En etsi valtaa, Loistoa as well as, most surprisingly, playing some snatches of Handel in an arrangement entitled Rejoice, O Daughter of Zion which veers alarmingly from jazz to pure show-biz through cod-baroque … and back again. I assume it is the Leader of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra who so adroitly provides the solo, Stéphane Grappelli-style, in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, preceded as it is by a hauntingly lovely arrangement of the Italian folk song Santa Lucia.

A rhapsodic, almost symphonic arrangement of The Little Drummer Boy leads into Joy to the World, and you won’t need particularly sharp ears to hear the vestiges of the drummer boy in the second part of the arrangement. And having conducted Entre le boeuf et l’âne gris with French choirs myself on numerous Christmas occasions over the past twenty years, I was a bit bemused by this Finnish version, to the point where I don’t think I would have recognised it had the title not been translated in the booklet. It’s a beautiful arrangement, though, for unaccompanied children’s choir, most successful and atmospheric.

There are a couple of longer original pieces, including Jouluevankeliumi, a setting of the Nativity story from St. Luke by Jaakko Kuusisto. This is melodious, undemanding music which, like the rest of the disc, is quite superbly sung by the Laulupuu Choir. Always beautifully in tune, with plenty of zest when required, these young singers give the impression that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves, as does, for that matter, each and ever member of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. As for the sound quality, I think this is one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever encountered, though I seem to find that each time I hear a BIS CD.

So who could ask for more at Christmas? Well, it’s not the collection of arrangements of Finnish traditional Christmas songs I was expecting, and potential purchasers should be forewarned about those lavish arrangements. Some might think it all rather twee, or that a little goes a long way.

Others might not.

-- William Hedley, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Jingle Bells by James Pierpont
Performer:  Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor), Ulla Raiskio (Alto),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857; USA 
2.
Santa Lucia by Anonymous
Performer:  Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ),
Ulla Raiskio (Alto)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Italy 
3.
Arkihuolesi kaikki heitä by Traditional
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
4.
Santa Claus is comin' to town by John Frederic Coots
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
5.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Johnny Marks
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
6.
Holiday Inn: White Christmas by Irving Berlin
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
7.
Hei tonttu-ukot hyppikää by Traditional
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
8.
The Little Drummer Boy "Carol of the Drum" by Katherine K. Davis
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
9.
Christmas Songs (5), Op. 1: no 4, Give me no splendour, gold or pomp by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Ulla Raiskio (Alto), Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor),
Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1909; Finland 
10.
Messiah, HWV 56: Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Petri Lehto (Tenor), Jussi Miilunpalo (Tenor), Pauli Pietiläinen (Organ),
Ulla Raiskio (Alto)
Conductor:  Esa Heikkilä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra,  Laulupuu Choir Lahti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; London, England 

Sound Samples

Joulukirkkoon (A sleigh ride to Christmas Mass) (arr. for choir): Joulukirkkoon (A sleigh ride to Christmas Mass) (arr. P. Kiiski)
Jingle Bells (Kulkuset) (arr. J. Pierpont): Kulkuset (Jingle Bells) (arr. J. Pierpont)
Tulkoon Joulu (May Christmas Come) (arr. J. Kiiski)
Arkihuolesi kaikki heita (Throw Thy Everyday Cares Aside) (arr. A. Takalo)
Joulupukki matkaan jo kay (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) (arr. J. Kuusisto)
Petteri Punakuono (Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer) (arr. P. Kostiainen)
White Christmas (Valkea joulu) (arr. V.-M. Halkosalmi)
Tonttu (The Tomte) (arr. J. Kiiski)
Puuropotpuri: Joulu on taas - Nisse-polkka - Tonttujen jouluyo (arr. J. Kiiski)
Pieni Rumpalipoika (The Little Drummer Boy) - Joy to the World (arr. J. Kuusisto)
Heinilla harkien kaukalon (Oxen and Asses Stand Around) (arr. H. Ahmas)
5 Christmas Songs, Op. 1 (arr. V.-M. Halkoslami): 5 Christmas Songs, Op. 1: No. 4. En etsi valtaa, loistoa (Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt, Give me no splendour, gold or pomp) (arr. V.-M. Halkoslami)
Messiah, HWV 56 (arr. A. Takalo): Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (arr. A. Takalo)
Jouluevankeliumi (The Christmas Gospel)
Rondo brillant in E flat major, Op. 29: Tule Hiutale (Come, Snowflake) (arr. J. Kuusisto)
Minun jouluni (My Christmas) (arr. J. Kuusisto)
Me Hohteen Kirkkaimman Naimme (We Saw the Brightest Light)

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