Ralph V Lucano
American Record Guide
, November 2015
The score is governed by a 12-tone row, but the music borders on the diatonic and is really easy to listen to. Many of the melodies are derived from folk songs (which would mean more to Finns than to anyone else); and the instruments, especially the percussion though sometimes the screeching strings, make consistently expressive and colorful sounds. As near as I can tell from the English translations, the words are always set meaningfully and sensitively. The ensembles are complex but in the best theatrical traditions— they really clarify the action and the protagonists’ emotional states. The writing for two of the characters is particularly communicative and individual. Anna-Liisa’s vocal lines keep arching up toward the top of her range, and they often sound conventionally beautiful. Husso, on the other hand, is sung by a harsh, untrained pop voice rather than an operatic one, to striking dramatic effect (even if a few words are inaudible). Both roles are confidently sung. Kurki-Suonio tends to caw; Juntunen’s soprano sounds particularly lovely. Hynninen brings his slightly worn but still handsome voice to the role of Kortesuo, Anna-Liisa’s father. It’s too bad the character is so dislikable. The two high baritones who sing Anna-Liisa’s suitors are persuasively repellant and rather hard on the ears. Kauppinen, as Anna-Liisa’s mother, and Anu Hostikka, as her sister Pirkko, have sweet soprano voices, and Jouni Kokora’s authoritative bass tones make him a suitably pompous Vicar. The orchestra plays remarkably well.
I didn’t think I would like this, but I did. We need new operas, so unless you’re resolutely averse to dodecaphonic music, I suggest giving Anna-Liisa a chance. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide