Author Topic: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)  (Read 2646 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« on: March 23, 2015, 01:59:22 PM »
Not expecting much response to this. I remember in my youth having a Finlandia LP featuring his Third Symphony, which must have been quite a progressive work for me to be listening to at that time. I didn't really understand it but remember being oddly impressed by it,especially the sombre repeating sequence getting quieter and quieter at the end. I see that the CD is unavailable. Any other views on this composer? We have no Finnish composers generic thread otherwise I would have posted this there.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2004/dec/28/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries1

The symphony is on You Tube.

This link takes you to the last movement so you can hear the ending for yourself if you are interested:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RB8OGeLPcJE
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 02:06:32 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline lescamil

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 02:09:08 PM »
I'll throw in a recommendation for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, found on this disk:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Alba/ABCD342

The whole CD is great, actually. I find a lot to like in the Meriläinen, though. Here is a review:

Quote
Interesting music continues to come out of Finland. In fact, contemporary music used to be “defined” by a sound that was characterized by Rautavaara, Sallinen and Saariaho. More recent works by composers such as Puumula and Tiensuu show that a very wide berth eclecticism now seems to define the palate. This very intriguing disc proves that point.

I am somewhat familiar with Jouni Kaipainen through his fiendishly difficult clarinet concerto, Carpe Diem. His two movement work, notkea Keaton (The Ghost of Buster) has a bizarre but fascinating source of inspiration. The composer’s late close friend Markuu Peltola was an actor and musician whose specialty was broad comedy and revivals of old American and European silent films, such as those by comedian Buster Keaton. Peltola, in fact, had a sort of jazz club, new music ensemble that he called The Buster Keaton Film Orchestra. When Peltola passed away of a long illness, Kaipainen was determined to memorialize his friend in music. The interesting thing is that the “notkea” (ghostly apparition) aspect of Buster Keaton implied in the score’s first movement is not funny or farcical at all but has an odd, but compelling blend of dark ethereal flavor along with some unexpected tricks of orchestration that may be a reference to the rather athletic effects that the silent film actor was noted for. The second movement, Aubade beninoise, was added by Kaipainen two years later and may be performed as its own work. The interesting thing here is that the title refers to the village of Benin in West Africa that the composer visited to explore its blend of native peoples and Finnish cultural influences, as typified by the Villa Karo cultural house. There is a dark but exotic feel to this section or movement as well. Of particular interest is the composer’s use of drums and drumming that conjure up djembe performers. This whole score is largely tonal and deliciously orchestrated with a mysterious aura that I really liked. The reasons and feelings that led to the work’s creations are a bit obtuse and – most assuredly – personal to the composer, but it is a fascinating work.

Amuse-bouche by Paavo Korpijaakko also has a fascinating cultural symbolism behind its creation. The term “amuse-bouche” is from French culinary traditions and refers to any number of small pre-dinner dishes that will whet the appetite for what is to come (in French cooking, a more precise fare than to refer to such recipes as “appetizers”) This work is actually a pretty substantial and “meaty” piece filled with dramatic bursts of percussion and sweeping wind statements. This very attention-getting work becomes quiet, eerie for a bit but closes in a bold fashion. I was not at all familiar with Korpijaakko until this work but I definitely would like to hear more.

Lastly, Usko Meriläinen’s Aikaviiva (“Timeline”) is also subtitled his Concerto No.2 for orchestra and was written for the Tampere Philharmonic. This is a fascinating and somewhat ethereal work characterized by a very creative and somewhat moody use of percussion. I found it interesting that the “Timeline” of the title refers to a fairly systematic use of rhythm and tempo. The work builds gradually as the percussion effectively “chops up” time into different rhythmic grouping causing the tempo to directly and implicitly speed up, then break down again. Some similar subdivisions within the context of time occur with respect to dynamics. It is a very interesting piece to be sure.

The performances by the Tampere Philharmonic under the baton of Hannu Lintu are very fine. This orchestra has a strong recorded history of their proficiency with modern music and the sound quality of this disc is great. The SACD format is crisp and clear and sounds very fine all the way around. These are compelling works by composers with different musical perspectives and true life personalities and life experiences to influence their work. Recommended!

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2015, 02:43:14 PM »
I'll throw in a recommendation for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, found on this disk:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Alba/ABCD342

The whole CD is great, actually. I find a lot to like in the Meriläinen, though. Here is a review:

Thank you very much lescamil; I was not expecting any replies. The article is interesting and I was delighted to find the Third Symphony on You Tube. I had not heard the work for about 30 years but it was great to be reacquainted with it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2015, 09:44:05 PM »
You seem to have jinxed it, it has now been taken down.

 :(

Offline lescamil

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 07:19:45 AM »
The Third Symphony can be found on one of these Finlandia Meet the Composer compilations, many of whose recordings are taken from long out of print LPs and such:

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/album/meet-composer-usko-merilainen/id642204730

I found a copy in the bowels of my computer and realized I had never listened to it. I'll have to do that very soon.
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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 12:34:51 PM »
+ a Double Bass concerto and two sting quartets!

 ;D

I'll be downloading it directly.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2015, 12:42:18 PM »
Not available in the Australian iTunes store, only the Danish one.

(Don't they want money?)

 >:(

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2015, 02:40:27 PM »
You seem to have jinxed it, it has now been taken down.

 :(

When I just tried the link in my original message it worked ok.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

snyprrr

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2015, 05:56:57 PM »
I might have an SQ on an Ondine disc? Yes, No.3 (1992),... hmm, does it start busy and end quiet, I think? Will check...

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 08:55:43 PM »
When I just tried the link in my original message it worked ok.

Might be a regional thing like the iTunes stupidity.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 01:46:22 PM »
Might be a regional thing like the iTunes stupidity.

Yes, probably but sorry that you weren't able to hear it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

snyprrr

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Re: Usko Merilainen (1930-2004)
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2015, 02:05:54 PM »
The Third Symphony can be found on one of these Finlandia Meet the Composer compilations, many of whose recordings are taken from long out of print LPs and such:

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/album/meet-composer-usko-merilainen/id642204730

I found a copy in the bowels of my computer and realized I had never listened to it. I'll have to do that very soon.

any updates here?? I can't find that 'Meet the Composer' 2CD set...