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Fiddler's Spring / Juha Kangas, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra

Holst / Rautavaara / Larsson / Rangstrom
Release Date: 03/12/2013 
Label:  Alba   Catalog #: 330   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Einojuhani RautavaaraLars-Erik LarssonTure RangströmPehr Henrik Nordgren,   ... 
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FIDDLER’S SPRING Juha Kangas, cond; Ostrobothnian Ch O ALBA 330 (67:41)


HOLST St. Paul Suite. RAUTAVAARA The Fiddlers. LARSSON Folk-song Night. RANGSTRÖM Fiddler’s Spring. NORDGREN Pictures of Rural Past. Read more class="COMPOSER12">WEINER Divertimento. TOBIAS (arr. Tubin) Nachtstück-Ööpala


The theme on this latest release by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra is that of folk music in a classical context, not distanced (at least, musically) by sentimentality or stereotype. The selection of music cleverly includes one standard work, the St. Paul Suite , presumably to draw in a broad audience, and a variety of pieces not generally known except to specialists and reviewers with bizarrely omnivorous tastes for classical content.


My own knowledge of the other compositions on this disc only extends to the Rautavaara, Rangstrom, and Weiner. Rautavaara’s Pelimmanit (The Fiddlers) dates back to his early folk-influenced phase, in 1952. Its five miniatures are snapshots of experiences after a group of famous fiddlers arrive in 18th-century Närbö. In contrast to the Holst which was intended as a training exercise for an orchestra he led at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in London, Pelimmanit is genially rowdy in its outer movements, and more than slightly animist in one of the others, the eerily effective “Kopsin Jonas,” as the fiddler in question plays on Midsummer’s Night for the nearby forest. Spelmansvår (Fiddler’s Spring) was by contrast a very late work of Ture Rangström. Its three movements present the mythic archetype of the fiddler as a shadowy creature, walking halfway between this world and night-nature. Rangström both harnesses and subverts expectations of the late 19th-century idiom of the string serenade, producing something that veers between comfortable and chill with his usual ease. In its turn, Weiner’s delightful Divertimento isn’t quite the “relatively straightforward arrangement” of Hungarian and Hungarian-Romany folk tunes as described in the liner notes, but it does refrain from romanticizing the harmonies, and the use of counterpoint in the form of imitation lends variety to the mix.


For the rest, despite being in one movement, Larsson’s Folkvisenatt (Folk-song Night) is very close to the late 19th-century idiom of the string serenade, and would fit very well alongside similar pieces by Dvo?ák, Suk, and Tchaikovsky, among others. Rudolf Tobias was a Rimsky-Korsakov pupil. His Nachtstück-Ööpala , originally the slow movement from his String Quartet No. 2, was transcribed by Tubin for string orchestra. The central section is the most interesting, but the whole piece makes very effective use of quartet textures, much as you’d expect. Finally, Nordgren’s Juvia maaseudun menniesyydestä (Pictures of Rural Past) is subtitled, “Adaptations of Finnish folk tunes for strings and harp.” Aside from reproducing the tunes monodically with good results, he frequently utilizes harmonic underpinnings that really do sound sentimentally evocative. The occasional slide and tonal cluster don’t bring much to the mix, and feel out of place. The fourth movement, “A Young Man’s Farewell on Leaving America,” with its bookends of arctic despair surrounding a pleasant Irish fiddle tune, is well worth the hearing, as is the final movement, “The Fiddler,” despite being a bit long for its material.


The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra demonstrates an ability to color that ranges from ripely romantic to harsh, to raucous. Their typically light vibrato and acute ear for pitch allows for some wonderful examples of “bent” notes as required. (Although they previously issued Pelimannit on Ondine 983 more than a decade ago, this is a new recording of it.) The resonant hall in no way covers up the clarity of the parts, or the textural blend Juha Kangas gets from his musicians. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Pelimannit (Fiddlers), for accordion, Op. 1 (arranged by Matti Rantanen) by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1992 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 6 Minutes 23 Secs. 
2. Folkvisenatt (Folk-song Night), for orchestra by Lars-Erik Larsson
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 3 Minutes 10 Secs. 
3. Fiddler's Springtime by Ture Rangström
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; Sweden 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4. Kuvia maaseudun menneisyydestä (Pictures of Rural Past), Op. 139 by Pehr Henrik Nordgren
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2006 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 15 Minutes 44 Secs. 
5. Divertimento No. 1, (Old Hungarian Dances), Op. 20 by Leó Weiner
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: Modern 
Written: Hungary 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 10 Minutes 25 Secs. 
6. Nachtstück (Night Piece), for cello & piano by Helen Tobias Duesberg
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Written: 1982 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 7 Minutes 0 Secs. 
7. St. Paul's Suite for Strings, Op. 29 no 2/H 118 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Juha Kangas
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; England 
Venue:  The Snellman Hall, Kokkola 
Length: 11 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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