The program notes for this collection of Finnish songs describe them as products of the country's National Romantic period, which essentially extended from the late 19th through the early to mid-20th century. Of the nine composers represented here, few other than Oskar Merikanto are likely to be familiar to any but the most ardent devotees of Finnish music. The songs are consistently lovely and lyrical, but they are also surprisingly consistent in style, given the fact that the birth dates of the composers span more than a century; "Lapin ädin kehtolaulu," by Kalervo Hämäläinen, born in 1917, is idiomatically almost indistinguishable from the songs of Fredrik Pacius, born in 1809. Only a few songs by Yrjö Kilpinen (1892-1959) and Merikanto (1868-1924) venture even slightly into the harmonies of the late Romantic period. Depending on the perspective of the listener, the sameness could be seen as either a positive or negative factor. Anyone looking for a collection of warmly lyrical songs, many of which have a folk-like simplicity should be very pleased with this album. Listeners who expect variety and contrast in a vocal recital are less likely to be interested. Soprano Soile Isokoski sings with passion and commitment; she obviously knows these songs inside out and has their spirit in her blood. Her voice is intensely focused and bright, but does not sound large or especially warm on this recording, and it can occasionally verge on a pinched sound in its upper reaches. Pianist Marita Viitasalo provides a supportive and supple accompaniment. Ondine's sound is clean but unforgivingly close.
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