Osmo Vänskä / Lahti Symphony Orchestra

Soumalainen Virsi (Finnish Hymns), Vol. 3

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The third and last disc in the BIS survey of the Finnish hymnal consists of modern arrangements of a few familiar Protestant hymns and other sacred melodies seldom heard outside Finland. Like the pieces on the previous two volumes, these are all instrumental versions without voices. The majority of them were produced by the musicians of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra -- conductor Osmo Vänskä, first violinist Jaakko Kuusisto, bassoonist Harri Ahmas, and resident composer Kalevi Aho, with a few other contributions to the project by Olli Kortekangas, Ilkka Kuusisto, and Kari Tikka. While most of the arrangements are reverent and within the boundaries of good taste, there are a few that venture too far into symphonic fantasy and kitsch, such as the incredibly bombastic Sinfoninen sarja by Kuusisto, the disturbingly militaristic Quasimodogeniti by Tikka, and the vulgar mini-epic Nyt ylös, sieluni by Vänskä. Without knowing that the main themes are hymn tunes, and that the music is meant to reflect religious feelings, the listener might easily mistake these pieces for the worst kind of "swords and sandals" soundtrack music. Despite the generally fine performances and good sound, this peculiar album is too secular in flavor for the devout, and too tedious for anyone not immersed in Finnish culture.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
7:55
2
3:20
3
3:08
4 3:08
5
8:42
6
3:33
7
3:20
8
7:13
9
3:18
10
2:55
11
5:18
12
4:21
13
5:16
14
4:05
blue highlight denotes track pick