Finnish composer Räihälä
was born in Suomussalmi, Northern Finland.
His background is in punk rock and later
in the rhythm & blues influenced
heavy rock of the group The Highland
Queen. In 1985 he abandoned rock
and then studied privately in Stockholm
and Turku, the latter the scene of orchestral
and chamber premieres. Predominantly
self-taught he studied composition with
Rampant is one
of his Everton-inspired compositions.
The title comes from the BBC commentator
John Motson’s enthusiastic shout "It’s
a rampant Everton now!" during
a game against Watford in 1985. This
is a fast and furious witch-flight of
a piece with an enthusiastic embrace
around buzzing Webernian techniques.
a similar Webernian texture with kaleidoscopic
mosaic in speeding movement. The woodwind
provide a distinctly lyrical voice though
plagued with anxiety. Once again avant-garde
requirements are made of the players
with coarse didjeridu sounds being wrung
from the wind singers.
String Quartet nr.
2, subtitled Jobimao, owes
its title to Brazilian bossa nova man
Antonio Carlos Jobim. The piece starts
in Räihälä’s accustomed
buzzing Webernian tension, regretful
melancholy off-set by chugging Stravinskian
figures and here further moderated by
bossa nova rhythms.
King of Lycksele
is what the composer describes
as a brief ride for solo cello, written
for Markus Hohti in late 2002. It is
lively, modern-sounding yet not ‘scary’.
The first performance was heard in April
2003 in Pieksämäki, Finland.
The Stoa Trilogy
was written to seek ‘the spirit
of the ancient Stoic school and its
perception of how a man can achieve
the balance with the world through three
moods.’ Ataraxy ‘seeks a total
peace of mind where no outward stimulus
can affect a human being.’ Both this
and Apathy are characterised
by moderate dissonance and Sisask-like
twinkling figures from the piano which
also seems to echo Holst’s Betelgeuse.
Autarchy peels away from self-absorption
and is more propulsive.
Emperor of Vuokki
is a sister work for King of Lycksele.
The work was written in a single day
and revised after comments from violinist
Maria Puusaari. The title is another
inside-joke - rather like King of
Lycksele and Räihälä
is not letting on. It runs the gamut
of avant-garderie. I found it rather
for chamber ensemble marks a
clear change in style - and this is
admitted by the composer. The title
has a double meaning: pointing to rock
music but also relating to the rock
painting in Hossa, Suomussalmi portraying
men and moose. It was done around 2000-2500
BC and was rediscovered in 1977. The
three solos are improvised by flautist
Lauri Toivio, violist Max Savikangas
and clarinettist Marko Portin: ‘I let
them express their own style, and was
glad to notice that Jethro Tull, Frank
Zappa or Benny Goodman have not passed
these gentlemen without leaving some
‘rock paintings’ on their souls either.’
In fact the bejewelled glittering
and swaying writing recalls a mélange
of Martinů, Weill, Villa-Lobos
and George Crumb alongside the rock
influences. It’s attractive yet provocative
music (try 14:50 - almost Malcolm Arnold!)
which I can see going down well with
audiences with stiffer sinews
on the South Bank as well as in jazz
clubs and Celtic Connections festivals.
Wynton Marsalis should take a good listen
to this music as should the more enterprising
jazz club scouts and festival organisers.
is well worth watching and not as a
final shudder of the avant-garde outliers
either. This disc makes an excellent
starting place for exploration and I
suspect that Uusinta’s other CDs will
be just as provocative: Uusinta at the
edge of time UUCD101 and Max Savikangas