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From the Heart of Finland
Kuula; Merikanto; Melartin; Kilpinen
Karita Mattila, soprano
Ilmo Ranta, piano
Ondine ODE 892-2 [58.21]

Toivo Kuula, Aamulaulu / Morning Song [1:26]
Oskar Merikanto Kullan murunen / Thou Art a Nugget of Gold [1:23]
Pai, pai paitaressu / Bye Bye My Sweet Swaddled Baby [2:40]
Soi vienosti murheeni soitto / Play softly, Thou Tune of My Mourning [2:11]
Kottarainen / The Starling [1:03] Ma elän! / I Am Alive! [1:29] Omenankukat / Apple Blossom [1:20] Kevätlinnuille etelässä / To the Spring Birds in the South [1:51] Kansanlaulu / Folk Song [2:03] Laula, tyttö / Sing to Me, Girl [0:51] Kun päivä paistaa / When the Sun Shines [1:59]
Erkki Melartin (1875 - 1937) Mirjamin laulu I / Miriam's Song I [1:47] Mirjamin laulu II / Miriam's Song II [2:53] Toivo Kuula Syystunnelma / Autumn Mood [2:57] Tuijotin tulehen kauan / Long Gazed I into the Fire [4:51] Marjatan laulu / Marjatta's Song [4:19] Kesäyö kirkkomaalla / Summer Night in the Churchyard [2:55] Imandran laulu / Imandra's Song [2:37] Sinipiika / The Forest Maid [2:52]
Yrjö Kilpinen (1892 - 1959) Laululle / To the Song [1:46]   Suvilaulu / Summer Song [1:22] Folksong / Kansanlaulu Minun kultani kaunis on / My Gal is So Pretty [1:32] Hilu, hilu / Gee, It's Cold [1:09] Soittajapaimen / The Piper Shepherd [2:15] Läksin minä kesäyönä / A Wandring on  a Summer's eve [2:29]Tule, tule kultani / Come, Hurry My Darling [2:31]

It is already some seven years since Karita Mattila became the first Cardiff Singer of the World, and she has not looked back. Her lyric soprano voice has a rich mezzo quality and is evenly produced throughout a wide range. This CD probably benefits from the freedom which goes with singing in one's own language, even given the impressive linguistic accomplishments of Finns.

The selection here entitled From the heart of Finland is devoted to favourite songs by Finnish National Romantic composers of the first half of the 20th century. In truth, there is a certain sameness about those selected from the often voluminous collections by several of these composers, and their songs deal with the conventional subjects of love and nature, many of them with having a strong folk-song basis. The accompaniments tend to be what I would describe as 'homely', and one can well envisage their being sung and played at home in front of a log fire during the long, dark Finnish nights! A little more distinctive than the others is Toivo Kuula (1883-1918), who is given to a rather personal brand of Scandinavian gloom.

I don't think UK buyers would seek to add these songs per se to their collections, but reservations are swept away by the joy of hearing a marvellous voice in perfect health. There is no indication when & where the sessions took place, but the singing as presented to us is flawless, with a sense that Mattila is revelling in her gifts and in bestowing them upon her native composers. Because these are not songs which grip me in their own right, I drop one star - but it is a CD to give unalloyed, if simple, pleasure, and a must for young singers who would like to extend their repertoires in that direction.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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