Juha Nikkola / Kymi Sinfonietta

Uuno Klami: Rhapsodie

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The name of Finnish composer Uuno Klami (1900-1961) is not one that springs to the lips of American music lovers with any great frequency, but in Finland his music is played third most often among native composers, after Sibelius and Rautavaara. Based upon what is heard on Rhapsodie, a Kymi Sinfonietta disc from the Finnish Alba Records label, perhaps listeners outside Finland would find their lives enriched by the extraordinary qualities of Klami's music. Uuno Klami studied in Paris with Maurice Ravel, and his highly colorful orchestral scoring is inclined toward lushness. While Klami's music is modern, it is not at all difficult to grasp; his rhythms are crisp, snappy, and at times betray the influence of jazz. Of the five works on this Alba disc, only one has been recorded before -- Klami's Symphonie enfantine. This is programmed along with Klami's brief Intermezzo for English horn and small orchestra (1937). But the featured work on the program, the incidental music to The Prodigal Son was written in 1945 for a play by Marin Drzic. This music was considered "lost" until discovered by composer Kalevi Aho in 2000. It has been idiomatically orchestrated by Eero Kesti, whose Fantasia for Orchestra "Spring" (1995) is also heard here. To hear it without knowing what it was, you would never guess that this piece is "new music," but it is not anachronistic -- it is a solid and well-realized orchestral piece in a fresh, late romantic style. If you have traditional tastes and think the contemporary classical music scene has gone into the crapper, perhaps you should seek this disc out. You will find much here to surprise and delight you.

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