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Author Archives: Paul

essay: What’s new on Tolkien

Letters, Recordings and Performances

“… the most overwhelming pleasure
was provided by Finnish …
But … there been another call …
I heard it coming out of the west …
O’Donnell Lecture by JRR Tolkien
Oxford University, 21 October 1955

On the inaugural O’Donnell Lectures at Oxford University Professor Tolkien recalled the country he got acquainted with after reading The Kalevala and the Finnish Grammar by Sir Charles Eliot. Tolkien began writing his The Story of Kullervo when he was a student at Oxford and most likely before the beginning of the “war to end all wars” – eventually he also began to write an essay on The Kalevala before going to France in 1916, less than a month prior to the deadly Battle of Somme. In his essay Tolkien was interested in comparative mythography, specially in the cases of Finnish and Welsh mythologies. On the present occasion I’d like to tell the reader about two stage works based in the writings of Tolkien, one from Wales and another from Finland.

I began my contact with the British composer Paul Corfield Godfrey (now living in South Wales) thanks to the kindness of Simon Crosby Buttle, the awarded British tenor working for the Welsh National Opera since 2009. According to the legend, Mr. Buttle approached Mr. Godfrey and they eventually considered the performance of sections from the latter’s scores after Tolkien’s books: The Professor was still working at the University when Godfrey first read his works. In 1971 orchestral excerpts Godfrey’s The Hobbit were performed in London – and that was before Orson Bean voiced the first Frodo and Bilbo Baggins that appeared in the movies (Bean would also become involved with Reichian psychoanalytic therapy).

Nonetheless, events prior to those in The Hobbit would definitely strike Godfrey. I am of course speaking of The Silmarillion, which is often considered one of Tolkien’s more difficult texts. To avoid confusion, I have prepared a table with a brief timeline of Tolkien’s works (The Silmarillion comprises events from Creation up to the Second Age). From top to bottom, the first row defines the different periods in Tolkien’s Legendarium and the second identifies Tolkien’s works related to each period. Finally, I offer a brief account of each period:


Ages of Lamps and Age of Trees

First Age

Second Age

Third Age

Fourth Age


Quenta Silmarillion


The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

Creation of the World and the Gods

Creation and destruction of the Lamps. Creation of the Two Trees.

Destruction of the Trees. Silmarills are forged. Sauron arises after the defeat of Morgoth

The Rings of Power are forged. Sauron is “defeated.”

Bilbo Baggins acquires The One Ring.

The One Ring is destroyed.

Godfrey and Buttle saga continued, they were joined by the Volante Opera Productions -with its headquarters in Cardiff, it was founded in 1999 by Julian Boyce (Buttle’s colleague at the Welsh National Opera). Eventually, Prima Facie Records, which previously released songs and chamber music by Godfrey, also joined the efforts. And thus the Company was formed, little by little, as in the events described in The Council of Elrond.

On July 2023 The Complete Silmarillion was made available to the public. I’ve listened to it all and had substantial discussions with the composer. Allow me please to share a few notes. The whole cycle is being sold in a box with 5 double-CDs accompanied by a 128 pages guide to the listener and the complete libretto – it’s being sold for £65, but one may buy each of the 5 CDs separately for £15 at the official website. The first recording appeared originally in 2018, it was related to The Fall of Gondolin (so it was not the first chapter of the The Complete Silmarillion). In 2023, the fifth, The War of Wrath, was released along with the complete box set.

Godfrey’s The Complete Silmarillion is certainly a great collectible for a die-hard Tolkien fan. It’s a majestic work of musical art that covers the Ainulindalë (The Music of the Ainur”), a section from the Age of Trees, the First Age (in more detail) and brief allusions to the Second Age. It should be remembered that Christopher Tolkien himself (the Professor’s son who edited The Silmarillion and published many of his father’s works) assisted Godfrey in the original stages of his creative process – sadly, Christopher passed away at the age of 75 in 2020.

Godfrey’s Silmarillion-cycle is undoubtedly the largest-ever recording after Tolkien’s works (“now total over ten hours” – the composer told me). And though nowhere close to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Licht (with 29 hours) nor Richard Wagner’s Ring (with 15) it is surely the largest-ever musical composition created in Wales, a small country but rich in tradition – not only for its early depictions of the Arthuriana, but also as being the homeland of the House of Tudor – including Queen Elizabeth I.

The recordings might not please every listener. They are labeled as Demo Recordings, with no orchestra involved – this made me constantly think on Luigi Pirandello’s Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore but in an somehow inverted situation (and hopefully an orchestra will be found!). Buttle offered what I believe to be but a temporary solution: a sampled orchestra (opposed to synthesised). Even so, other artists from the chorus of the Welsh National Opera joined, including Angharad Morgan as Galadriel (she also offers lessons in singing) and Jasey Hall as Sauron (who is also a skilled tubist). Buttle, by the way, appears in many roles, including Elrond and Ëarendil.

The Ainulindalë (CD1: Fëanor) is of outstanding value – it’s Tolkien’s words turned into music in its most exemplary form. Anyone familiar with Tolkien’s writings will remember that the universe was created in The Music of the Ainur. So now we may hear it, as close as it is allowed by the Tolkien Estate. But do not mistake Godfrey’s Ainulindalë with Wagner’s overture for Das Rheingold – the former’s “water theme first appears definitively in the prelude to Scene Seven of Fëanor … But of course there are also the themes associated with [sea-god] Ulmo [performed by Martin Lloyd, who, among many others from the Welsh National Opera chorus, were residents in 2014 at Savonlinna performing Nabucco and Manon Lescaut]” – so said the composer (further confirmed by Buttle). CD1 continues with the story of Fëanor (Simon Buttle), who have been described as a reinvented Ilmarinen, for they were both skilled forgers.

With Fëanor’s death in CD1 we continue with CD2 where the listener joins the love-story between Beren and Lúthien (with Morgan and Boyce in the main roles). I particularly enjoyed the musical treatment on the song The Promise Fulfilled with its oscillations between somber and soft tonalities. You don’t have to understand or have previous knowledge of the text to feel the essence of the section. I speak of course of the doomed Oath of Fëanor (that led to many sorrows and death) and Finrod’s own oath to Beren which fostered the alliance between elves and men.

Still, I was even more thrilled by Lúthien’s dance. In the composer words: “initially as a light-hearted game in her enticement of Beren.” I understand it as a reminiscence of Herder’s translation of the Danish ballad that eventually became Goethe’s Erlkönig (then turned into music by Carl Löwe and Franz Schubert) – with a plot-twist nonetheless. After losing his hand and dying, Lúthien manages to bring Beren back to life after a plea to Mandos (with, in my opinion, not without influence of the Orphic myth). On a discussion over Lúthien’s dance, the composer told me:

I deliberately avoided any attempt to depict the Elves (or hobbits) as ‘fairy-like’ in the style of Mendelssohn, which I am sure Tolkien would have thoroughly disliked – although I find the incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream enchanting, especially when performed in the context of the complete play with all the melodramas included.

Moving on to CD3 (The Children of Húrin), I was at first absorbed by its psychoanalytic implications (being a trained psychotherapist myself, how couldn’t I?). Renowned Finnish psychoanalyst Tor-Bjorn Hagglund once wrote “Kullervo is a prisoner of his own oedipal hatred of his father and his desire for revenge” (p. 172). In addition: “the Oedipus complex of childhood becomes predominantly that of Väinämoinen, of Ilmarinen, of Lemminkänen or of Kullervo” (p. 174). On top of that, the world as we know today could have been deprived of both The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Though Allen & Unwin had already published The Hobbit, Tolkien’s new writings were rejected by them. This rejection urged the Professor to write a very long letter to Milton Waldman in the early 1950s. On that occasion the former said: “There is the Children of Húrin, the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar … a figure that might be said (by people who like that sort of thing, though it is not very useful) to be derived from elements in Sigurd the Volsung, Oedipus, and the Finnish Kullervo” (Letter 131) – speaking of which, in November 2023, The Expanded Edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters was released, with sections from Letter 131 that were previously excluded from the standard volume of Tolkien’s letters. The new Expanded Edition includes 150 new letters and restored ones (such as Letter 131).

Erik Tawaststjerna studied the incest motive in Jean SibeliusKullervo. It’s recognition appears (as the reader certainly knows) in Scene Two, with an oscillation between A flat major and A flat minor: “This is no Tristan-like meeting … it is an encounter between two primitives who experience all powerful sensations and feelings” (p. 116). “Voi, poloinen, päiviäni” (Sibelius, p. 289) sings Kullervo on his lament “accompanied by convulsive chords … and in it Kullervo longs for death” (Tawaststjerna, p. 117). Eventually, Godfrey told me about his speeches to the Dutch Tolkien Society Unquendor “I have there referred to the quotation in my setting of The Children of Húrin from the Sibelius Kullervo symphony – which in turn dovetails neatly into the whole world of the Kalevala and the influence of Finnish mythology on Tolkien’s legends.” At this point, I should ask the reader to forgive me, for the issue is already known, even outside Finland: Godfrey directly quoted Jean Sibelius in his depiction of Túrin Turambar’s recognition of the incest he has committed (though again with Buttle in the role, “the casting would not happen like this if these works were done live”, emphasized the tenor).

On CD4 (The Fall of Gondolin) we are led to the hidden realm of the elves that was so tied with Túrin’s tale. I felt that the song Man Kenuva in Elvish was particularly interesting – it echoes the motive related to the idea of sailing across the Ocean towards the Blessed Realm with echoes from Ulmo (A minor-seventh). Such song appears in the Epilogue titled The Last Ship, which

was selected largely because I wanted a substantial poem in Elvish to be sung by the voices across the water to act as a counterpoint to the setting of The happy mariners … unlike the earlier Elvish hymn to midsummer in Gondolin, there is no attempt to forge an individual ‘Elvish’ style as I attempted in the earlier setting with its overtones of Russian chant and Tudor polyphony and its close approach to the meaning of the text. The more distant and impersonal setting of The last ship will of course be almost incomprehensible to an audience in performance, even if they understood every word of the text – said the composer.

In a even more musicological tone Godfrey pointed out that its

sense of ‘other-wordliness’ is deliberately underlined by the manner in which it moves harmonically in keys that often move away from the principal tonality (as in the final double chorus) and reflects the way in which sounds moving towards or away from the observer are subject to relativistic changes in pitch … I have sought to underline elements in the narrative by appeals to the subconscious ear of the listener.

In CD5 (The War of Wrath), I was astonished by Galadriel’s dance in the Epilogue. It is certainly a traditional motive in the Arts. Though I’m particularly fond of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach’s Der Feentanz from 1895, one should not disregard Geofrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (of course written in Medieval English): “The elf-queene, with hir joly compaignye; Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede” (Wife of Bath, 860-1) nor Henry Purcell’s “Trip it, trip it in a Ring; Around this mortal dance, and Sing” (p. 6, 1693). According to Godfrey:

The music for the Elvish dance at Galadriel’s words in the Epilogue [of The War of Wrath, CD5] … goes back a very long way – in fact to the early 1970s when I wrote my opera on The Hobbit, where the rhythm formed the setting of ‘Dance all ye joyful, now dance all together!’ sung by the elves in Rivendell. I later purloined the theme for use in my description of the Outling dance in my setting of Poul Anderson’s The Queen of Air and Darkness (which can be heard also on YouTube), and it fitted ideally into the music at that point in the Epilogue, adding a lift and lightness to the harmonic texture which is then contrasted with the same rhythm slowed down and given a more mournful form by Círdan immediately afterwards.

Artwork: Ted Nasmith Cover Design: Volante Opera Productions Copyright 2023 - used by permission

Artwork: Ted Nasmith
Cover Design: Volante Opera Productions
Copyright 2023 – used by permission

Furthermore, if The Silmarillion is already recorded, we are still waiting for its performance. Godfrey and Buttle are currently working on the stage design for it. As of today, we know only of stage performances and movies on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – with the exception perhaps of the Children of Húrin, that was rehearsed in Priscilla Tolkien’s home in a preparation for the Oxonmoot in 1982. Moreover, in early 2023, The Watermill Theatre at Berkshire, England, revived the musical spectacle originally created by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus. The Finnish folk music band Värttinä collaborated with Indian composer Allah Rakha Rahman for the original performance in Toronto back in 2006. A shorter performance was prepared for London West End in 2007, and a recording is available.

Furthermore, as many in Finland know already, Suomenlinna was the stage for the 1988 and 1989 performances of The Lord of The Rings, with Kari Väänänen, who also acted in many movies by Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, including La Vie de Bohème (1992) and A Spice for Life (2019). Väänänen acted as both Aragorn and Gollum (better known as Klonkku in Finland) in the 6 hours live production and in the 9 hours and 30 minutes TV show directed by Timo Torikka (who acted as Pippin in the Suomenlinna production). Later on, in 2002 and 2003 the city of Jyväskylä received a production of the Lord of the Rings once again with Toni Edelmann, who had already created the music for Suomenlinna and the TV show.

More recently, the Turku City Theatre offered a performance of The Lord of The Rings. The Helsingin Sanomat from February 16, 2018 gave an overall positive review, though with criticism on the high influence from Peter Jackson’s movies. Next year, the audiences will meet Sami Keski-Vähälä and Pirjo Liiri-Majava works – they worked respectively in the dramatization/adaptation and with costume design for the Turku 2018 performance, and now will join the crew that is preparing a performance in Tampere (Liiri-Majava was also costume designer for the performance of The Hobbit at Turku back in 2021).

At the Tampere Theatre, Ella Mettänen as Frodo will lead the way against the forces of Sauron. The actress already raised awareness to a serious clinical problem that affects social in life in Kipeä Esitys at the Takomo Theatre, Helsinki. If Mettänen spoke of chronic pain at the Takomo she will apparently be tackling – either directly or indirectly – feminist issues at Tampere. It’s certainly one thing to have one of the hobbits (namely Pippin) being performed by an actress (Amelia Gabriel), as it was the case in Watermill/Berkshire. But if all of the 9 members of the “Fellowship of the Ring” were males in the book, now 4 will be females in Tampere. Following Mettännen, Annuska Hannula will appear as Pippin, and Elisa Piispanen as Merry – Samwise Gamgee will still be acted by a male actor (Antti Tiensuu). The last member that is now a female is the dwarf Gimli (Elina Rintala). But it doesn’t stop there: Mouth of Sauron, Gorbag and Shagrat (all evil male characters) will be performed by the same artist that will act as Galadriel (Arttu Soilumo), Arwen (Henna Tanskanen) and Bilbo Baggins (Eeva Hakulinen), respectively. Not that I want to omit the other members of the crew, but it seems to me that Tampere is preparing a radical move that took place incipiently in Berkshire/Watermill – instead of 1 character with a switch of gender, now there are 7.

Gender studies in Tolkien’s works appeared as soon as other serious scholar approaches. The earliest study is possibly Doris Myers Brave New World: The Status of Women According to Tolkien, Lewis and Williams. Published in 1971, Myers’ study was heavily influenced by civil rights movements in the USA during the 1960s and 1970s. According to Janet Croft and Leslie Donovan: “readers and critics have discussed his Middle-earth narratives as lacking in women, preserving cultural stereotypes of female roles, and reflecting antifeminist tendencies” (p. 14). We should possibly also take The Kalevala into account. Scholar Kaarina Kailo stressed out that women are usually represented according to relational terms and are deprived of proper status. And when failing to abide to patriarchal norm, women are deemed as deviant, such is the case, for instance, of Louhi. For Kailo, Elias Lönnrot deliberately reshaped the tales he collected to fit his patriarchal agenda. Such criticism is something to have in mind after the Tampere production of The Lord of The Rings, specially considering the influence The Kalevala had on Tolkien.

In any case, such a feminist approach to Tolkien should be done carefully. As Croft and Donovan observed, there is a “continuing and alarming tendency among some current Tolkien scholars to remain unfamiliar with or to disregard outright the more positive readings of Tolkien’s female characters and gender politics” (p. 16). The authors remembered that even in 2014, after feminist attacks on Tolkien were already heavily worn-out, the author of a chapter for A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien insisted on the passivity of Tolkien’s female characters.

Finally, it should probably be correct to affirm that Tolkien himself was the first to switch genders of traditional characters – in his own way. In The Silmarillion, Tolkien tells us:

The song of Lúthien before Mandos was the song most fair that ever in words was woven, and the song most sorrowful that ever the world shall hear … And as she knelt before him her tears fell upon his feet like rain upon the stones; and Mandos was moved to pity, who never before was so moved, nor has been since. (p. 186-187)

As the narrative continues until the end of Beren and Lúthien, we may continue to hear the echoes from the Orphic myth, which I chose here to quote after Claudio Monteverdi’s adaptation:

“Ahi sventurato amante,

Onde qual’ ombra errante

D’insepolto cadavero e infelice

Rendetemi’l mio ben, Tartarei Numi”

(1609, pp. 66-68).

– Daniel Röhe

Useful Links:


Croft, Janet and Donovan, Leslie. Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien. Mythopoeic Press, 2015.

Hägglund, Tor-Björn. “The Forging of the Sampo and its Capture.” The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 1985, 8:2, 159-180.

Monteverdi, Claudio. L’Orfeo. Favola in Mvsica. In Venetia Appresso Ricciardo Amadino, 1609.

Purcell, Henry. The Fairy-Queen. Tonson, 1693.

Sibelius, Jean. Kullervo. Breitkopf & Härtel, 1961.

Tawaststjerna, Erik. Sibelius. Volume I. 1865-1905. Translated by R. Layton. University of California Press, 1976.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition. William Morrow, 2023.

____. The Silmarillion. Allen & Unwin, 1977.

arvio: Ylioppilaskunnan soittajat Ritarihuoneella

YS Ritarihuoneella. Kuva © Eila Tarasti.

YS Ritarihuoneella. Kuva © Eila Tarasti.

Ylioppilaskunnan soittajien konsertti Aku Sorensenin johdolla Helsingin Ritarihuoneella keskiviikkona 13.12.2023 klo 19, solistina Asko Padinki, fagotti. Augusta Holmès, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Igor Stravinsky

Ylioppilaskunnan soittajien eli YS:n satavuotisjuhlat lähestyvät (2026). He konsertoivat ahkeraan, muuallakin kuin Helsingissä. Mutta… miksi he eivät soita yliopiston juhlasalissa? Sinnehän he kuuluvat, tämä yliopiston ainutlaatuinen kulttuuri-instituutio; se perustuu musiikilliseen lahjakkuuteen, joka kokoaa nuoria kaikista tiedekunnista. Täydellistä idealismia.

Kuinka yliopisto kohtelee omia musiikkivoimiaan? Salin vuokra on n. 5000 euroa plus vahtimestarien ja garderoben palkkiot. Ei mikään vapaaehtoisuuteen perustuvat yhdistys voi sellaista maksaa. Ei myöskään HYMS eli yliopiston musiikkiseura, joka aikoinaan järjesti mittavia konsertti-ja esitelmäsarjoja tässä upeassa, historiallisessa salissa, joka sai Paciuksenkin muuttamaan Suomeen. Yliopiston periaate on nyt rahastaa musiikilla, ei rahoittaa sitä. Hämmästyttävä ja suoraan sanoen tyrmistyttävä asenne maassa, jonka ylpeys on juuri musiikki. Juhlasalin renovaatiossa poistettiin myös taiteilijahuoneet, joissa muusikot voisivat valmistautua lavalle. Eli politiikka on selvä: ei musiikkia Helsingin yliopistoon.

Freunde, nicht diese Töne….

Konsertissa kuultiin kaksi todellista löytöä, aivan tuntemattomia säveltäjiä Suomessa. Kuka oli Augusta Holmès? Never heard. Hän eli vuosina 1847-1903, oli irlantilaissyntyinen Ranskaan 1871 muuttanut säveltäjä. Väitettiin, että hänen oikea isänsä olisi ollut runoilija Catulle Mendès. Augustaa estettiin aluksi toteuttamasta säveltäjän kutsumustaan, kuten niin monia muitakin tuon ajan naissäveltäjiä. Hän kuitenkin opiskeli musiikkia, pianonsoittoa, ja näytti yhden sävellyksensä Lisztillekin. Hänen opettajansa oli César Franck. Heitä yhdisti Wagnerin ihailu. Mendèsin tyyli oli niin viriilin dramaattista, että häntä pidettiin ’miessäveltäjänä’. Saint-Saëns kirjoitti hänestä tähän suuntaan: ”Holmès on nainen, mutta ekstremisti.” Yhdessä vaiheessa hän käyttikin salanimeä Herman Zenta. Joka tapauksessa tuotannosta kasvoi laaja, muun muassa kolme oopperaa, joista yksi, La montagne noir esitettiin Pariisin oopperassa 1895, ainoana naissäveltäjän teoksena siihen saakka. Hänen arvostustaan heijastaa myös se, että juuri häneltä tilattiin oodi vallankumouksen satavuotisjuhlaan 1889.

Holmèsin monista sinfonisista teoksista kuultiin nyt Andromède vuodelta 1883. Teos oli pelkällä musiikillaan jo ilmeisen narratiivinen, ettei tarvinnut lukea mytologista juonta Perseuksesta ja merihirviöstä.Teos alkoi vaikuttavilla vaskilla, ja myöhemmin kuultiin monia wagneriaanisia aiheita. Ollakseen ranskalaista musiikkia teos oli hyvin dramaattinen ja väkevätehoinen, mutta myös esim. harppuja käsiteltiin solistisesti ja ajoittain tuntui jopa kuin Mahlerin läsnäoloa. Ehdottomasti hieno valinta konsertin avausnumeroksi.

Toinen teos oli kuitenkin pääseikka. Jo säveltäjän nimi pakottaa hieraisemaan silmiä: mikä ihmeen Impich-chaachchaaha… joko taas chachachaata à la Käärijä? Ei suinkaan, nimi on Pohjois-Amerikan intiaaniheimon chickasaw’n kieltä ja tämä v. 1968 syntynyt miessäveltäjä kuuluu juuri tähän heimoon ja sen kulttuuriin. En usko, että hänen musiikkiaan on aiemmin kuultu Suomessa. Ja kuitenkin hänellä on laaja tuotanto orkesterille, kaikkien otsakkeet viittauksina chickasaw-kulttuuriin, historiaan, mytologiaan ja eetokseen, on tunnettua ainakin Yhdysvalloissa, moneen kertaan palkittua ja esitettyä lukuisten keskeisten sinfoniaorkesterien ohjelmistossa.

Tästä ensi tutustumisesta tuli sytyttävä elämys ja johdatus aivan uuteen musiikkityyliin. Onko olemassa Pohjois-Amerikan intiaanien klassista musiikkia? Antonín Dvořák saattoi laittaa lainauksia Uuden maailman sinfoniaansa mutta pysyi tshekkiläisenä. L. M. Gottschalk teki pianoparafraaseja. Ferruccio Busoni kirjoitti neliosaisen Indianisches Tagebuchin, jossa hän taitavasti käytti melodioita ja rytmejä, jotka oli lainattu alkuperäisestä intiaanimusiikista.

Silti nyt kuultu mytologisaiheinen Ghost of the White Deer nousi esiin kuin uuden musiikillisen mantereen löytönä. Teos on fagottikonsertto, niitäkään ei ole paljoa kirjoitettu ja tällä soittimellahan on omat stereotyyppiset konnotaationsa eurooppalaisessa sinfoniamusiikissa (espanjalainen oppilaani Aurea Dominguez teki niistä väitöskirjan Helsingin yliopistoon). Fagotin tehtävä oli nyt kannatella tarinaa, joka perustui ajatukseen valkeasta peurasta. Onpa tuttua: meillähän on ikioma saamelaisaiheinen elokuvamme ja siinä Einar Englundin musiikki. Kuitenkin voi olla vaikea sanoa, edustiko fagotti tarinan sankaria, joka yrittää valloittaa intiaanitytön pyydystämällä hänestä vaaditun valkean peuran. Teos on kaiken kaikkiaan erittäin vauhdikas. Ostinatona kuullaan nopeita trioliasteikkoja, joista erottuu chickasaw-musiikin tyypillisiä intonaatioita. Teoksessa on myös raskaita aksentteja kaikille soitinryhmille. Keskitaite on lyyrinen, mutta additiivinen rytmiikka huipentaa teoksen. Fagottia toki käsitellään konsertoivasti ja se saa huipentaa teoksen voiton finaaliin. Mutta kaikkiaan sointikuva ja harmoniat kuulostavat jollain tapaa traagisen kohtalokkailta.

Asko Padinki suoriutui sävellyksen ilmeisesti erittäin vaativasta fagottiosuudesta väkevällä panoksellaan ja virtuositeetillaan. Tämän harvinaisuuden perusteella olisi varmasti syytä perehtyä laajemminkin säveltäjän tuotantoon; hänellä on ilmeinen paikkansa musiikin historiassa varsinaisena innovaattorina.

Konsertin jälkipuoliskolla kuultiin Stravinskyn Tulilintu; sitä kaikki orkesterit haluavat soittaa loistokkaan koloriitin ja kirjoitustavan johdosta. Aku Sorensen (s. 1997) johtaa nyt YS:ää nuorekkaalla innollaan ja musiikillisilla oivalluksillaan. Yhteistyö orkesterin kanssa oli erinomaisen taidokasta. YS:llä on varmasti hänen johdollaan edessään lukuisia voitokkaita esityksiä. Juttelin väliajalla Alf Nybon, erään YS:n entisen johtajan 70-luvulta kanssa. Aina ei YS:n historiassa ole ollut näin ilmeisen menestyksekästä toimintaa, 70-luvulla akateeminen kulttuuri ei ollut muodissa ja saattoi olla vaikea saada soittajia kokoon. Nyt on toisin. Ja se, että Ritarihuoneen yleisö koostui valtaosin ilmeisen nuorista musiikin harrastajista, ja soittajien kavereista on erinomaisen lupaava merkki taidemusiikin tulevaisuudesta. Nuoret haluavat soittaa sitä, hurmioitua sointielämyksistä, nauttia orkesterisoiton yhteisöllisyydestä. Ei siis syytä huoleen.

Eero Tarasti

arvio: Arto Noras ja ranskalaiset

Arto Noras

Arto Noras

Helsinki Seriös -sarjan konsertti Sibelius-Akatemian konserttisalissa V/X, 10.12.2023 klo 18. Arto Noras, sello, Ossi Tanner, piano, Tami Pohjola, viulu ja Atte Kilpeläinen, alttoviulu. Nadia Boulanger, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré ja Camille Saint-Saëns

Sopii erinomaisesti, että Arto Noras (s. 1942) juhlii merkkivuottaan ranskalaisella ohjelmistolla, teoksilla, joista useimmat olivat harvinaisuuksia maamme konserttilavoilla. Ja kaiken takana on Pariisi. Muistan, kun saavuin opiskelemaan sinne 1973 ja asetuin suomalaisten muusikkojen, mm. Tapio Jalaksen suosittelemaan vaatimattomaan hotelli Celticiin Montparnassella, miten sen emäntä muisti elävästi ajat, jolloin Noras asui siellä ja harjoitteli sellon soittoa aamusta iltaan Paul Tortelierin oppilaana. Nyt Noras on itsekin yhtä legendaarinen ja kertynyt muusikon kokemus on valtava. Hän on muun muassa levyttänyt Pendereckin huippuvaikean ja radikaalin 2. sellokonserton, joten kaikki tämän soittimen tekniikat ovat tuttuja. Kuitenkin hän yleensä erottuu ihanalla sellon äänellään, jonka on saanut siirrettyä myös monille oppilailleen.

Joka tapauksessa tämä oli uutuuksien ilta. Nadia Boulangerin viehättävä Kolme kappaletta sellolle ja pianolle (1914) toimi mainiona johdatuksena: kaksi melankolista osaa ja yksi oikullinen, vauhdikkaampi. On tyypillistä ranskalaisille pitää selloa matalaäänisenä soittimena, jolloin pianon säestys pannaan ylärekisteriin.

Debussyn sellosonaattia d-molli (1915) on saatu kuulla tässä salissa jo opintoaikoina lukemattomia kertoja. Mutta Noraksen tulkinta oli aivan uusi. Nyt hän sai teoksen kuulostamaan modernimmalta kuin se on. Noras teki siitä pointillististen sävelten värikartan, hän eläytyi kaikkien kuvioiden semantiikkaan ja ilmeikkyyteen, soitti nopeat kuviot erittäin vilkkaasti, jolloin sointi muuttui jo sähäkäksi. Ossi Tanner osasi mukautua tähän ’uudistettuun’ versioon Debussystä.

Faurén sonaatti niinikään d-mollissa op. 109 taas on jo myöhempää Fauréta, tätä sonaattia en ole juuri kuullut aiemmin. Fauréhan kävi muuten Helsingissä soittamassa kamarimusiikkiaan v. 1910, mutta tämä ei voinut kuulua ohjelmistoon. Itse asiassa sävellys ei muistuttanut mitään aiempaa tuntemaani Fauréta. Joten kyseessä oli löytö musiikkiarkistosta.

Ranskalaisen säveltaiteen vahvuus ns. absoluuttisen musiikin alalla on juuri kamarimusiikki. Tämä johtuu siitä, että musiikkielämän päänäyttämö olivat salongit, varakkaiden naisten ylläpitämät salit ja musiikkiseurueet jo 1700-luvulta 1900-luvun puoliväliin saakka. Kaikilla säveltäjillä oli mesenaattinsa, jotka tilasivat teoksia ja jopa puuttuivat niiden sisältöön; ruhtinatar Polignac, alias Winnaretta Singer, amerikkalaisen ompelukoneen keksijän tytär, oli tällainen, mutta hänellä olikin erehtymätön maku. Näin Saint-Saëns, Fauré ym. pääsivät Bayreuthiinkin milloin halusivat.

Tässä mielessä on kiintoisaa, että näiden salonkien vakiovieras Marcel Proust julkaisi kaksi artikkelia Saint-Saënsista, Camille Saint-Saëns, le pianiste (Nouveaux Mélanges, 8.12.1895) ja Figures parisiennes: Camille Saint-Saëns (Le Gaulois, 14.12.1895) (lainattu kokoelmasta Essais et articles, Paris: Gallimard, 1971: 382–386).

Proustin essee liittyy konserttiin, jossa Saint-Saëns soitti erään Mozartin pianokonserton. Samassa konsertissa oli paikalla myös säveltäjä Reynaldo Hahn, joka luonnehti soittoa ’kuivaksi’, nimittäin sikäli, ettei hän käyttänyt pedaalia ollenkaan. Proustin mielestä Saint-Saënsin soitto oli kuninkaallista – nimittäin siinä mielessä että

[.…] kyseessä on tapa tervehtiä, hymyillä, avata käsi, tarjota tuolia, kysyä ja vastata, mikä osoittaa, että suuret kuninkaat ovat näyttelijöitä – ei siksi että he kantavat kruunua tai antavat orjien leyhyttää palmunoksia. Suuren näyttelijän esiintyminen on paljasta ja antaa vähän aihetta suuren kansajoukon ihailulle yksinkertaisuudellaan. Saint-Saënsin Mozart oli kuitenkin suuri asia. Soittajaa ympäröi muusien kuoro, joka hymyilee nerolle ylläpitäessään hänen sielunsa pyhää tulta ja lähettäen meille viehätyksensä, innoituksensa ja kunnioituksensa.

Toisaalta Proust antaa Saint-Saënsille omasta mielestään korkeimman arvosaseman muusikkona nimittäin:

[…] hän on suuri musiikkikirjailija (écrivain musical). Maalata soinnulla, dramatisoida fuugalla, ikuistaa tyylillä, käyttää yhtä paljon luovaa neroutta asteikkoon kuin melodian hahmoon, kuin muratti, joka kätkee antiikin monumentin, tarjota arkaismillaan jaloutta modernismille, tämä musiikillinen humanisti antaa neron kekseliäisyyden loistaa siinä mikä näyttää olevan vain tradition, jäljittelyn ja tiedon aluetta.

Hyvin poeettista, kuten Proust aina! Mutta jotain tästä on hyvä tietää pianokvarteton nro 2 B-duuri op. 41 (1875) taustana. Kyseessä on ehkä ennemmin pianokonsertto, koska pianolla on aivan keskeinen rooli, vaikka kyllä muutkin soittimet saivat esittää koruilevat resitatiivinsa. Tami Pohjolaa kuulin ensi erran nyt; Atte Kilpeläisen tunnemme Suomen johtavana alttoviulistina, molemmat ovat juuri oikeita valintoja tähän teokseen,

Erikoista tässä kvartetossa on, ettei siinä ole lainkaan hidasta osaa. Katsoin viime kesänä sen partituuria ja totesin, että se on todella vaikea teos. Ossi Tanner selviytyi tästä todella ’kuninkaallisesti’, täysi tunnustus, briljanttia soittoa, mutta dramaattisissa kohdissakin pysyen ranskalaisen musiikin tyylitajussa. Esitys sai erittäin innostuneen vastaanoton ja jotkut pomppasivat seisoen osoittamaan kunnioitustaan lavan virtuooseille

Eero Tarasti

review: The Sergio Fiorentino Piano Competition in Novara, Italy

Sergio Fiorentino

Sergio Fiorentino

Sergio Fiorentino Piano Competition, Nov. 30 – Dec 2, 2023, 3rd Edition, Conservatorio Guido Cantelli di Novara. Founder of the competition: Mario Coppola

It is likely that not many foreigners know such a place as Novara, which is in the neighbourhood of Milan, 44 km to the west. It is a historic town and so is the Conservatory, established by the permission of the Pope in 1766. Its building was constructed in the 18th century and was renovated in 1831-1856. In World War I it was used as a hospital and in World War II by partisans. In 1995 it was named after the great Novara-born conductor Guido Cantelli.

The idea of a Fiorentino competition came from pianist Mario Coppola, who – invited by the Helsinki University Music Society in 2013 – we had the joy to introduce to the Finnish audience during his recitals. Heavens, ten years have passed! I wrote about it at the time on, like now, and told how well his playing represented the famous Neapolitan piano school founded by Sergio Fiorentino (1927-1998). At the time Coppola played at the Helsinki University’s Solemnity Hall among other things Liszt’s Vallée d’Obermann and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 110. All this is still remembered with appreciation and admiration by the Helsinki audience. Coppola, like Giuseppe Andaloro, was a pupil of Sergio Fiorentino (whose recordings are abundantly available on APR and Rhine Classics, covering the central works of the piano repertoire).

Yet, the Fiorentino competition is by no means overwhelmingly grandiose, instead it is a charming, refined forum for young international pianists the majority of which were Italians this time. It has a senior series and a junior one, whose participants were born in 2004-2006. The reason why I was there was of course that my wife Eila Tarasti had been invited to the jury; hence, I heard all the participants, and now I quite willingly offer some insights based upon my notes. The chair of the jury was the internationally well-known Italian pianist Giuseppe Andaloro. The members of the jury were as follows: Aki Kuroda, who lives in Germany, and is famous for her contemporary music interpretations, Xin Wang from China, once a child prodigy who now lives in Germany and has performed among other things as a soloist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Eila and Mario Coppola, of course.

Well, in a deeper sense what is one to think of competitions? Some like them, some do not. There is an enormous number of competitions merely in Italy. One has to state that this phenomenon has launched a new profession, ’a competition musician’, a person who circulates in competitions, wins them – and continues to the next one. Do then other kind of musicians have any chance of coming into prominence? Frankly, everyone knows that to win a competition is surely not the only way to make a career. But for young musicians (and of course they are young at this stage!) competitions offer an opportunity to learn a vast programme by heart and to perform it under a stronger nerve stress than normally. All this is positive education for their future careers.

Yet, musically, we may disagree. Since the main goal is to make a strong impression, to be as convinving and persuasive as ever, the music itself suffers. Interpretations reach to extremities and exaggerations. An artist is no longer ’a window to the art work’, as Marcel Proust once said about actress Sarah Bernhardt. Personally, I prefer to attend a quite normal symphony concert, with its often somehow sleepy atmosphere, just to enjoy the music, rather than be over-excited in a competition or a festival.

Nevertheless, the Fiorentino event thus has two sections. The senior section (up to 33 years) has three rounds: a 1st round for all, a semifinal round and a final round; the junior section (up to 19 years) contains only one round.

1st round: Gabriele Biffoni had Beethoven’s Variations Op. 34 and Scriabin’s Etude Op.42 No. 8 in his programme. He played graciously in a galant style, but the ’joy’ theme in the triple measure was too reserved. Bruno Maria Billone programmed a Debussy etude and Scriabin’s Sonata Messe noire. His Debussy was soft, it had a giocoso sound and a true jeu; what a difference there is between these two composers! Boggian Tommaso with his Chopin Barcarolle, a Rachmaninov etude and Kapustin’s Concert Etude was expressive, narrative and enthusiastic (Kapustin is rarely heard; incidentally, I think I once met him in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg). The Chopin was somewhat hasty. Ilaria Brognara played the same Chopin organically in tempo, it was interestingly narrative but somehow problematic in forte.

Gabriele Castelli had a Rachmaninov Etude and Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in his programme. He proved to be a cold-blooded musician. In Chopin the upper voice was a little weak, but otherwise he had a very classical view. By the way, how many people notice that the opening motif of Rachmaninov’s Étude-tableau Op. 33 No. 6 is a quotation from the opening of Wagner’s Siegfried? Kimoto Shuta had an expressive touch in Scarlatti. He understood the irony in Rachmaninov, which was refreshing. Tommaso Odifredi was tranquil even in Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude with its pp effects, he enlivened the Spanish secco sound in Albeniz. Mirei Ozawa’ s Chopin Etude in Double Thirds was very secure and light; The F Minor Fantasy was tragical but somewhat exaggerated, even warlike – Noch ist Polen nicht verloren – but with a substantial sound.

Danylo Saienko played some rarely heard etudes by Ignaz Friedman with a narrative tone. He had a powerful sound and emotional empathy in all and performed in a truly romantic manner. Isa Trotta programmed a well balanced Chopin Ballade No. 4, and her Debussy was very gracious.

The Junior series had as interesting talents to be shown as the senior one. So age does not matter any longer! Beatrice Baldissini’s Chopin F minor Ballade (No. 2), was soft but fluent, she also knows how to build a drama. Her Rachmaninov etudes contained varied touches, and her Ravel (Gaspard de la nuit) was exciting, clearly articulated by sudden pauses. Beatrice di Stefano had only Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in her programme; she brought out its lyricism well, but the performance was perhaps too heavy, there should be playfulness; the slow movement was glittering and the theme well exposed in the middle part. Giulia Falzarano played Haydn very graciously, the scales were quite fluent; the theme in Chopin’s Andante spianato was very expressive, she separated the andante from the rest; beautiful formation, the scale passages very smooth, chords somehow weaker. Vittorio Maggioli should have executed the melody more prominently in Scriabin. In Chopin he had a soft and beautiful, yet fragile touch, the bass was sometimes too sforzando, but ’the stars sing’ anyway, as Scriabin said later of Chopin’s Sonata No. 3.

Gabrile Nesossi played Bach and Beethoven (Sonata Op.7, 1st movement, with topics of galloping horses and a chorale fighting with each other!) in a classical style, very exactly and correctly. His Debussy was humorous just as it has to be. Matteo Pinna was at his best in Liszt’s Polonaise; it had a certain jeu perlé quality but the tragical side was also convincing. Yet, the rest of his programme, i.e. Schumann’s Aufschwung and Rachmaninov did not suit him well. Massimo Urban amazed the audience by playing the first movement from Beethoven’s last Sonata Op. 111 which represents the end of Beethoven’s monumental style, heavy and tüchtig as Germans say. The interpretation was truly brilliant and youthful. With Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 he reached, frankly, the top of the entire competition. This was, as Frenchmen use to say, estupéfiant, breathtaking. The treatment of the rhythm with all its sudden accents was wunderbar. Only at some points the sforzato chords were a little too rude. Morever, he played his own cadenza. Bruno Massimo performed a very fluent Chopin etude, his Bach was confident and rigorous; yet his Mozart was devoid of expression; if the title is Unser dummer Pöbel meint, there should be humour. Simone Zorini had much emotion and Einfühlung in his Liszt; Mazeppa was full of speed, yet, on the stage the pianist displayed somewhat too many gestures.

Then there arrived the second round of the seniors. Gabriele Castelli had chosen Beethoven’s Op.110 and executed it in a totally perfect, well balanced manner. Everything was correct, the music breathed in its own, organic way, there was no exaggeration in anything. Only at the end of the finale, in the second fugue, it is not necessary to double the tempo, because the acceleration has already been written to the rhythmic values of the notes themselves. I remember how Charles Rosen always emphasized this. Yet, also this interpretation might be defended, there is a movement to transcendence, and existential sublimation. In any case that was very enjoyable!

Shuta Kimoto played Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 101, in which the march movement was very bright and rhythmic. In the final fugue he made a monumental ascent. A suitable enthusiasm was displayed in Albeniz’s capricious rhythms. Arthur Rubinstein said once that all the notes can never be played in Albeniz’s Iberia; however, here I think we heard everything which is in the score. Mirei Ozawa started with Haydn and then went on to the difficult Schumann Humoresque Op. 20. It is hard to play because it is technically demanding, but thematically, so as to music, not very interesting compared to Schumann’s other piano compositions; I tried in vain to distinguish those famous Rasch moments which Roland Barthes liked in Schumann! Ozawa’s Prokofiev was convincing, the pianist has a substantial sound, all went brilliantly.

Danylo Saienko gave us a truly strong interpretation of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 101. He is a very serious musician with higher emotional investment and strength than anyone else in this competition. His Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue grew metaphorically into a powerful Cologne cathedral. Its chorale motif is of course the bell theme from Wagner’s Parsifal. But, otherwise, ce n’est pas Parsifal as Jacques Février said to me once in Paris when I played it to him. So it must never become too heavy, not even in the huge stretto at the end. This is French music after all! Isa Trotta played Beethoven’s Op. 109 in a classical style with a rather thin, almost graphic sound. How many different styles the variations evoke, from the theme itself which is a Ländler and a Sarabande at the same time! Now Gregorian polyphony, then an impressionistic sound etc. Her Prokofiev was very reliable.

In the end the jury chose the finalists: Ozawa, Saienko and Trotta. Normally at this stage of a competition, the audience would be agitated. Incidentally, there was not much public in any round. Where did Gabriele Castelli disappear?

Final round: Ozawa programmed Prokofiev’s Sonata Op. 4; her sound was at first soft, with silent moments in sections of intimate atmosphere. But in Liszt there should be more emphasis in the upper voice, to pursue that transcendental gesture which is always present in his music. Danylo Saienko had a well chosen programme, as in a real recital; it was refreshing to be transported to 18th century Parisian salons of précieuses ridicules in Couperin’s clavecin pieces – which, however, also had a certain melancholic espressivo quality; this was a peaceful and witty contribution. Then Funérailles: quite heavy, almost macabre but it is justified, as the piece moves in the limits of banality. One of the most inspiring moments was certainly the lovely Goyescas by Granados, just appropriate at the end of a recital with its deliberating melody. The audience went home with the main melody playing in their heads, a true memorandum of the whole work. I have to admit that I did not hear Isa Trotta’s rendition of Chopin’s Third Sonata due to a meeting with a colleague.

Finally came the grand finale, the distribution of prizes by the whole jury and sponsors of the event. And, above all, by the new director of the conservatory, Alessandra Aina. Now the hall was crowded. The first rows were reserved for the city’s important cultural personalities. Professor Alessandro Zignani, teacher of music history at Novara Conservatory, gave a lively introductory speech; it was revealed that he is also a Sibelius scholar and a well known musicologist in Italy.

The winners – vincitori in Italian, which sounds to my ears almost like fighters of a Gladiator combat played the most successful pieces of their repertoire; thus we heard once again Massimo Urban’s phantastic Liszt rhapsody as well as Isa Trotta’s Chopin Andante spianato with much determination and form. As first prize was not given at all, Saienko was given second prize and two other finalists shared third prize. Saienko, who by the way is of Ukrainian origin and known to many Finnish colleagues, allowed us once again to admire his Franck and Granados.

– Eero Tarasti


arvio: Pari sanaa Sasha Mäkilän 20-vuotisjuhlakonsertista

E. Illen , Moritz von Schwindin oppilaan maalaus Mestarilaulajista, Hans Sachs keskellä. Neuschwansteinin linna. Postikorttisarja no. 208.

E. Illen, Moritz von Schwindin oppilaan maalaus Mestarilaulajista, Hans Sachs keskellä. Neuschwansteinin linna, postikorttisarja no. 208.

Helsinki Metropolitan Orchestra Temppeliaukion kirkossa keskiviikkona 15.11.2023. Kapellimestari Sasha Mäkilä ja viulisti Olivier Pons

Täytyy olla joku sysäys lähteä konserttiin paikan päälle ja nyt niitä oli kaksi: tietenkin illan sankari Sasha Mäkilä ja hänen orkesterinsa, mutta myös ehdottomasti Mestarilaulajien alkusoitto. Sashan ansioita en rupea tässä luettelemaan – paitsi että hän aloitti muusikon uransa Helsingin yliopiston musiikkitieteen laitoksella. Mutta hänen historiaan jäävä saavutuksensa on tietenkin tämä orkesteri (Madetoja-editioiden rinnalla). Nuoret etevät soittajat kokoontuvat vapaaehtoisesti musisoimaan ja ammattimaisella tasolla, tekevät kiertueita, muuntuvat oopperaorkesteriksi jne. Onkohan muuten missään muussa maassa niin monta toimivaa korkeatasoista sinfoniaorkesteria kuin Suomessa?

Mikäpä sopisi paremmin juhlaohjelmaan kuin Wagnerin Mestarilaulajien alkusoitto. Se sopii erityisen hyvin nuorille soittajille; muistan kun Leif Segerstam johti sen kauan, kauan sitten YS:n kanssa. Kyseessä on todella ikoninen teos, joskaan Wagner ei itse koskaan ollut mikään ikoni. Hän oli kyllä aikansa superjulkkis, mutta ei milloinkaan hyväksynyt yhdistyneen keisari-Saksan politiikkaa ja Bismarck piti häntä omituisena.

Mestarilaulajat sai tosin heti alkuun patrioottisen leiman Preussin-Saksan sodan yhteydessä 1871. Vielä 1920-luvulla, kun sitä esitettiin säveltäjän kotimaassa, yleisö nousi lopuksi seisomaan ja lauloi yhdessä Deutschland über allesVähän niin kuin meillä yleisö saattoi yhtyä Paavon virteen Viimeisten kiusausten esityksissä. (Saksassa tosin lukee monissa oopperataloissa seinällä: Mitsingen verboten, mukana laulaminen kielletty.) Se että Wagnerista tuli sitten väärinymmärretty ja tulkittu kvasi-ikoni on toinen tarina, jota hänen ei tarvinnut nähdä.

Mitä Wagner siis halusi? Hän tahtoi säveltää komedian, joka jäikin hänen ainoakseen. Katsokaa ja kuunnelkaa jo alkusoittoa: heti kun musiikki alkaa muuttua yhtään liian vakavaksi, se saa humoristisen, keventävän giocoso-käänteen. Mestarilaulajat on pitkä ooppera, mutta Wagner otti sen huomioon niin, että finaali onkin itseasiassa sama kuin alkusoitto, vain lavennettuna Hans Sachsin repliikeillä. Ja niistä viimeinen ylistää – ei mitään Saksan kansaa – holde deutsche Kunst, Saksan jaloa taidetta.

Niinpä Walther von Stolzingin kilpalaulu, joka voittaa, on jo itsessään koominen ja esitettävä paisutellen, schwellend. Mutta samalla se on niin oivallinen melodinen keksintö, että Wagner tahtoo ja antaa sen jäädä mieleen toistamalla sitä tuhat kertaa. Hieman niin kuin Berliinin ravintoloissa on periaatteena Lieber etwas gutes und dafür ein Bisschen mehr, mielellään jotain hyvää ja vähän lisää.

Mestarilaulajien alkusoitto on vastustamaton juhlanumero konsertissa. Kun mestarien marssiteema kohoaa korkeuksiin, on se musiikillinen ele (myös Adornon mielessä!): ”Hei, tulkaa kaikki mukaan.”

Illan toinen numero oli samalta kaudelta – mutta ’rintaman’ toiselta puolelta, nimittäin Édouard Lalon Espanjalainen sinfonia d-molli op. 21 (1874). Ranska oli siis juuri kärsinyt tappion, mutta paradoksaalisesti sen seurauksena kohosi musica gallica -liike, ja perustettiin Société musicale vaalimaan ranskalaista musiikkia. Lalolta tunnetaan nyt ainakin sellokonsertto, jota on meillä soittanut mm. Lauri Rantamoijanen.

Espanjalainen sinfonia on Espanjaa nähtynä Ranskan silmin. Siinä on kaikki espanjalaisuuden stereotypiat seguidilloista habaneraan ja malagueñaan. Jotka sitten periytyivät myös latinalaisen Amerikan musiikkiin. Mutta miten raikkaasti ja vetävästi tulkittuina. Sinfonia ei ole tietenkään sinfonia missään austrogermaanisessa mielessä – ranskalaisethan pelkäsivät sinfonioita ja kun kehittely alkoi, Debussy sanoi ”apua” ja lähti pois. Tämäkin teos kuuluu siis rapsodian kategoriaan, mutta kaikella kunnioituksella. Onhan siitä Vladimir Jankélévitch kirjoittanut suurenmoisen kirjan Rhapsodie. Verve et improvisation musicale (Flammarion, 1955)

Joka tapauksessa Lalon teos oli sykähdyttävä kokemus myös erityisesti sen solistin, viulisti Olivier Ponsin johdosta. Pons on ranskalainen, mutta asunut Suomessakin kahdeksan vuotta. Hänellä on hieno kansainvälinen ura ja nyt hän johtaa festivaalia Etelä-Ranskan linnoissa, joissa myös Sasha Mäkilä esiintyy. Ponsin soitto on virtuoosista ja samalla ilmeikästä kaikissa rekistereissä. En voi sille mitään, että mieleen tuli suomalaisten ikioma Heimo Haitto Ponsin soittoa kuunnellessa ja katsoessa.

Sasha Mäkilä sai orkesterinsa taas innostumaan. Hänen johtamiseensa on tullut lisää ponnekkuutta ja muotojen hallintaa. Hänhän pitää myös kapellimestarikursseja Sofiassa, Bulgariassa. Mielellään hänelle soi tämän jubileumin ansiokkaasta muusikon työstään – tähän saakka – sillä hän ehtii vielä paljon.

Eero Tarasti