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New Klami CD released by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra


The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra has released a new Klami CD, ODE 1143-2.

The new release is a chance to discover maestro John Storgårds’ inspired readings of the Cheremissian Fantasy, the Kalevala Suite and the orchestral fantasy Aurore boréale.

The soloist in the Cheremissian Fantasy is the talented young cellist Samuli Peltonen.


Uuno Klami was the Finnish Ravel, his music characterized by superb craftsmanship, glittering orchestration, and melodies that sound like you might have heard them before but can't remember where. The Cheremissian Fantasy for cello and orchestra is a case in point, saturated with the folk music of far-off Cheremissia (or wherever). It doesn't matter, either there, or in the Kalevala Suite, the closest thing that Klami has to a popular international hit. Northern Lights will be new to most collectors. It's an 18-minute symphonic poem that more than lives up to its title: alternately atmospheric and brilliant, it rises to an imposing climax that reveals Klami's gifts as an orchestrator to excellent effect. 

While both the Fantasy and the Kalevala Suite have been recorded previously – and very well (BIS has a fine Klami series from Lahti) – this new release is outstanding in every way. The Helsinki Philharmonic knows this music as well as anyone, and in any event is a first-class ensemble no matter what the repertoire. John Storgårds leads vibrant interpretations, with Samuli Peltonen an impressive cello soloist. The sonics are superbly lifelike, with plenty of detail and a wide dynamic range. Highly recommended. (David Hurwitz, 2/9/2010 http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=12607)

Powerful readings of orchestral music by Klami. Uuno Klami is known as a cosmopolitan European who made bold use of the musical resources of his day, such as jazz or pentatonic mode. Above all he was, however, brilliant at handling his orchestra, as also illustrated by Aurore boréale, in which he subtly approaches French modernism in the spirit of Ravel and Berlioz. Then the Kalevala Suite is full of orchestral fireworks. It has been on the regular programme of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra on its tours abroad, and not surprisingly it is the high point of the disc in the powerful, primitive interpretation of John Storgårds. But equally good is the Cheremissian Fantasy, with Samuli Peltonen as the solo cellist. Intensive and mysterious in mood, it is in keeping with the primitive-hued trend in art music the best-known representative of which is Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

Peltonen’s cello sings deeply and in a sustained legato. (Risto Nordell, 21.1. 2010 http://www.yleradio1.fi/musiikki/uudetlevyt/id23470.shtml)

Excerpt from a review of the tour to Germany by the HPO and John Storgårds:

“Invited to appear in conjunction with the ‘HelsinKiss’ event, at the [Berlin] Philharmonie on Thursday, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra played a piece by Uuno Klami, a composer born in 1900, that takes as its starting point the symphonic poem genre cultivated by Sibelius in such works as The Swan of Tuonela and Tapiola. The name of the piece is Aurora borealis, The Northern Lights. It is interesting that the score dating from 1948 is far more securely constructed than anything written by Sibelius. It is much more solid; its thematic material is compressed, the tonality is expanded in whole-tone chords, admittedly not in the avant-garde way but boldly. Consequently, the piece sounds almost French, in the manner of the colourful, volatile cultural symphony that wants to have nothing to do with the openness of Sibelius.” (Peter Uehling / Berliner Zeitung 28.4.2008.)

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