Author Topic: Gimme Gimme Merikanto!!  (Read 762 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline snyprrr

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10699
  • SQs, PQs, PQTs, PTs, VSs, Berlioz-Xenakis/Aperghis
  • Currently Listening to:
    Things that are crisp and spritely vs. things that are thick and creamy
Gimme Gimme Merikanto!!
« on: August 11, 2014, 02:03:42 PM »
Back in the day, The Penguin Guide heartily recommended a Finlandia disc by Aarre Merikanto, which promised to be challenging. But of course I was going to try the 'Largo misterioso', I mean, who wouldn't be taken in by titles like 'Pan' and 'Notturno'? But, as I recall, it was tough going- a Nordic Schoenberg/Scriabin/Janacek hybrid that apparently did not leave the lasting impression of anything other than Segerstam+psychotic depression... surely hyperbole, but it ain't no Sibelius, that's for sure.

And there was a Cello Concerto on an Ondine disc, with Prokofiev, which made much less of an impression (probably written during his not-so-imaginative years). There have been some other Ondine discs in the meantime, which haven't tempted- and people mention his Opera 'Juha', but, no amount of advocacy has inspired me to dig deeper.

Then I found the Finlanda 2CD re-issue of that old Finlandia disc, along with another disc of orchestral stuff... for $5... and, seriously, I wouldn't except for that fact that this set is quite expensive online. So, I am about to dip into this for the first time in 20 years. Here are the tracks:

Disc1

10 Pieces for Orchestra (1930)

Fantasy for Orchestra (1923)

Violin Concerto No.2 (1025)

Violin Concerto No.4 (1954) it is noted that there was a falling off of powers in the later works


Disc2

Konzertstuck (1926)

Symphonic Study (1928)

Pan (1924)

Notturno (1929)

Largo misterioso (1930)

Genesis (1956) Soprano, Chorus, Orchestra




« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 08:59:25 AM by snyprrr »
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

Haydn-Sikh

Online cilgwyn

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3810
  • Location: Wales
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 02:24:46 PM »
Strange how they seemed to rave about Merikanto then lost interest! Like the proverbial Glenda Slag!! ::) ;D

Offline snyprrr

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10699
  • SQs, PQs, PQTs, PTs, VSs, Berlioz-Xenakis/Aperghis
  • Currently Listening to:
    Things that are crisp and spritely vs. things that are thick and creamy
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 06:14:20 PM »
Strange how they seemed to rave about Merikanto then lost interest! Like the proverbial Glenda Slag!! ::) ;D

There seems to be a Complete List of Compositions on the WikiPage, and it looks like most all of the important stuff is represented in the Catalogue. 'Pan' was certainly a prickly and thorny and more than a little impish- and in the scary Finnish way- very prickly indeed, like Szymanowski having a bad trip (either Merikanto was, or later became, a drug addict). 'Largo misterioso' has the ticking theme that Penguin Guide loved so much; it's an atmospheric four minutes.

Currently listening to the later, and much more conservative Violin Concerto No.4 (1954?), one of the last works he completed. It is like a very subdued Janacek Violin Concerto, without the Big Melody, rhapsodic, a pale and slightly malevolent landscape,... no hysteria. Yes, it is very subdued, like a long Nordic sunset on a cold windy autumn day,- not glowing, just gently and distantly shimmering- like the sun through a thicket as it finally disappears and the little shards of warm glow change colour and vanish. The finale is a mellow jaunt- one almost does feel a sense of morphine in the ever subdued atmosphere, very pervasive. I don't know if I've heard such an unassumingly rustic air- mm, surely...

(Now the VC 2- much more of the Szymanowski sounding yearning here in the '20s, but not as fragrant- Merikanto's Nordic disposition takes that Szymanowskian opulence and turns it inside out, making it spare and slightly strange, definitely pale and wan, like a non-hysterical Schoenberg)



Frankly, I'm curious to hear the earlier Symphony No.1 in b minor (1916?). All three of his Symphonies (the first two pre-1919), Violin Concertos 1 and 4, Cello Concerto No.2, and the Piano Concertos 2 and 4 are available. Some of the pieces (VC 3) were actually destroyed. The Finlandia 2CD set contains twelve pieces (including the two VCs) and represents the best overall introduction to Merikanto. The Ondine disc of Piano Concertos fills out the picture, and if we add the Symphonies, and the Opera 'Juha', that's a major portion of his output that would probably be of interest to us. There were a couple of other discs of Tone Poems and the 'Schott' Concerto (both on Ondine)- there wasn't much if anything beyond that, some minor Chamber Music perhaps,  but, because of his problematic Works List, (and you can certainly see what's available) this compact group of pieces might be close to perfect.
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

Haydn-Sikh

Online kyjo

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
  • Location: United States
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2017, 10:09:21 AM »
This disc has been one of my best discoveries of recent years:



The Piano Concerto no. 2 is an immensely appealing work that is notable for its episodes of quasi-Rachmaninoffian lushness. The outer movements of the Piano Concerto no. 3 are in a more spiky neoclassical style with resonances of Prokofiev and Bartok, but the middle movement (Pietá) is one of the most exquisitely beautiful movements I've ever heard. Its state of serene calm recalls the slow movement of the Ravel G major concerto. There is a brief, troubled middle section before the music returns to its opening calm in the form of a violin and piano duet. At only five and a half minutes in length I wish it were twice as long, but it still manages to transport me to another world in this amount of time. Here's the link to this extraordinary movement:

https://youtu.be/q5FZ_r3pkio

The remarkably concise Two Studies for Small Orchestra and Two Pieces for Orchestra on the same Ondine CD are also very much well worth checking out.

I've also listened to Merikanto's Concerto for Violin, Clarinet, Horn, and String Sextet (Schott Concerto), which is another wonderful work in a dark, densely chromatic style. Judging from what I've heard, Merikanto is a highly individual composer deserving of much wider attention. Interestingly, his style seems to have virtually nothing in common with his contemporary Sibelius, being much more cosmopolitan in outlook. I'm greatly looking forward to exploring his three symphonies and other works.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 10:12:37 AM by kyjo »

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 9169
  • Location: Rotherfield, East Sussex,
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2017, 10:27:20 AM »
This disc has been one of my best discoveries of recent years:



The Piano Concerto no. 2 is an immensely appealing work that is notable for its episodes of quasi-Rachmaninoffian lushness. The outer movements of the Piano Concerto no. 3 are in a more spiky neoclassical style with resonances of Prokofiev and Bartok, but the middle movement (Pietá) is one of the most exquisitely beautiful movements I've ever heard. Its state of serene calm recalls the slow movement of the Ravel G major concerto. There is a brief, troubled middle section before the music returns to its opening calm in the form of a violin and piano duet. At only five and a half minutes in length I wish it were twice as long, but it still manages to transport me to another world in this amount of time. Here's the link to this extraordinary movement:

https://youtu.be/q5FZ_r3pkio

The remarkably concise Two Studies for Small Orchestra and Two Pieces for Orchestra on the same Ondine CD are also very much well worth checking out.

I've also listened to Merikanto's Concerto for Violin, Clarinet, Horn, and String Sextet (Schott Concerto), which is another wonderful work in a dark, densely chromatic style. Judging from what I've heard, Merikanto is a highly individual composer deserving of much wider attention. Interestingly, his style seems to have virtually nothing in common with his contemporary Sibelius, being much more cosmopolitan in outlook. I'm greatly looking forward to exploring his three symphonies and other works.
Very tempting I must say! I enjoyed the two CDs featuring his symphonies.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 10:29:34 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Online kyjo

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
  • Location: United States
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 10:33:25 AM »
Very tempting I must say!

Sorry, Jeffrey ;D The Ondine CD of the PCs seems to be out of print, unfortunately, but you can access it on YouTube and Spotify. At least check out the wonderful slow movement of the PC 3 for the time being :)

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 9169
  • Location: Rotherfield, East Sussex,
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2017, 01:44:06 PM »
Sorry, Jeffrey ;D The Ondine CD of the PCs seems to be out of print, unfortunately, but you can access it on YouTube and Spotify. At least check out the wonderful slow movement of the PC 3 for the time being :)
Will do - many thanks Kyle.  :)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline SymphonicAddict

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 362
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2017, 03:26:05 PM »
I know the symphonies and some works like Ten pieces for orchestra, Scherzo for orchestra, Notturno, Lemminkäinen, Pan, Genesis, Konzertstück for cello and orchestra, and others. All that is pretty good stuff, above all the 2nd symphony. I'll need to check those concertos out.

Offline snyprrr

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10699
  • SQs, PQs, PQTs, PTs, VSs, Berlioz-Xenakis/Aperghis
  • Currently Listening to:
    Things that are crisp and spritely vs. things that are thick and creamy
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 08:58:31 AM »
I know the symphonies and some works like Ten pieces for orchestra, Scherzo for orchestra, Notturno, Lemminkäinen, Pan, Genesis, Konzertstück for cello and orchestra, and others. All that is pretty good stuff, above all the 2nd symphony. I'll need to check those concertos out.

takin concertos out today... will report...
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

Haydn-Sikh

Online kyjo

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
  • Location: United States
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2017, 01:53:10 PM »
takin concertos out today... will report...

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts :)

Offline snyprrr

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10699
  • SQs, PQs, PQTs, PTs, VSs, Berlioz-Xenakis/Aperghis
  • Currently Listening to:
    Things that are crisp and spritely vs. things that are thick and creamy
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 08:12:32 AM »
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts :)

Violin Concerto 2 (1926?) is really kind of an odd duck for the time. It is like Janacek+Szymanowski+morphine, very subdued, very half lit and glowing with no tremendous melody. I really think it is something special, but it is quite occulted.

The 'Schott' Concerto won a 5-way 1st Prize. It is also from the same era and sounds like perfect, cool Schrecker-Szymanowski-1917 styled lugubriousness. Again, I was very surprised.


The '10 Pieces for Orchestra', except for the striking tick-tock opening, felt more like drugged out Berg, which, Merikanto WILL seem like, since, he was apparently an addict (morphine?).


Merikanto is firmly in the overripe, over perfumed category,... maybe reminding me of the more depressing Denisov?


CD (Finlandia 2CD "Meet the Composer") is still in the car, gloomy day, might go for some more...
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

Haydn-Sikh

Online kyjo

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
  • Location: United States
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto!
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 08:46:47 AM »
Violin Concerto 2 (1926?) is really kind of an odd duck for the time. It is like Janacek+Szymanowski+morphine, very subdued, very half lit and glowing with no tremendous melody. I really think it is something special, but it is quite occulted.

The 'Schott' Concerto won a 5-way 1st Prize. It is also from the same era and sounds like perfect, cool Schrecker-Szymanowski-1917 styled lugubriousness. Again, I was very surprised.


The '10 Pieces for Orchestra', except for the striking tick-tock opening, felt more like drugged out Berg, which, Merikanto WILL seem like, since, he was apparently an addict (morphine?).


Merikanto is firmly in the overripe, over perfumed category,... maybe reminding me of the more depressing Denisov?


CD (Finlandia 2CD "Meet the Composer") is still in the car, gloomy day, might go for some more...

Great descriptions ;D Have you checked out his PCs 2 and 3 yet?

Offline snyprrr

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10699
  • SQs, PQs, PQTs, PTs, VSs, Berlioz-Xenakis/Aperghis
  • Currently Listening to:
    Things that are crisp and spritely vs. things that are thick and creamy
Re: Gimme!! Gimme!! Merikanto! DOUR!!
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 09:17:29 AM »
I know the symphonies and some works like Ten pieces for orchestra, Scherzo for orchestra, Notturno, Lemminkäinen, Pan, Genesis, Konzertstück for cello and orchestra, and others. All that is pretty good stuff, above all the 2nd symphony. I'll need to check those concertos out.

The Symphonic Sketch ("Symphony No.3") is a dour night-ride through a stormy landscape, indeed! It almost has a little bit of the Ruggles, what with the unrelieved atmosphere of a dreaded cold and wet dystopia of forest gods. It sounds more tense than Schoenberg, I'd say, but in a different way. Some cool sounds through the maelstrom, though.
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

Haydn-Sikh

Offline SymphonicAddict

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 362
Re: Gimme Gimme Merikanto!!
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 06:54:52 PM »
As I promised yesterday, I just played the piano concerti 2 & 3 on Spotify. At first, both works worth. I found the 2nd one more lyrical, slightly more subtle than the 3rd one. Secondly, although the concerti were pleasant, I'm afraid of what I'm gonna say: I wasn't as amazed as I wanted by the 2nd mov. from the 3rd piano concerto.  :( Of course, it's quiet, reflexive, beautiful enough, but not in a considerable level (at least IMHO). Anyway, thanks Kyjo for the recommendation. It's always interesting to discover new pieces.  :)
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 06:58:53 PM by SymphonicAddict »

Online kyjo

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
  • Location: United States
Re: Gimme Gimme Merikanto!!
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2017, 07:54:55 PM »
As I promised yesterday, I just played the piano concerti 2 & 3 on Spotify. At first, both works worth. I found the 2nd one more lyrical, slightly more subtle than the 3rd one. Secondly, although the concerti were pleasant, I'm afraid of what I'm gonna say: I wasn't as amazed as I wanted by the 2nd mov. from the 3rd piano concerto.  :( Of course, it's quiet, reflexive, beautiful enough, but not in a considerable level (at least IMHO). Anyway, thanks Kyjo for the recommendation. It's always interesting to discover new pieces.  :)

Thanks anyway for listening :) We're all moved by different things and that's what makes a forum like this so interesting.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 40441
  • Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    The Miraculous Mandarin chasing the tramps
Re: Gimme Gimme Merikanto!!
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2017, 08:14:07 PM »
As I promised yesterday, I just played the piano concerti 2 & 3 on Spotify. At first, both works worth. I found the 2nd one more lyrical, slightly more subtle than the 3rd one. Secondly, although the concerti were pleasant, I'm afraid of what I'm gonna say: I wasn't as amazed as I wanted by the 2nd mov. from the 3rd piano concerto.  :( Of course, it's quiet, reflexive, beautiful enough, but not in a considerable level (at least IMHO). Anyway, thanks Kyjo for the recommendation. It's always interesting to discover new pieces.  :)

I can’t help but nod my head in agreement with you here. I found both PCs on this disc to be rather unmemorable. But, of course, one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. We all like different things.
"Competitions are for horses, not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK