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Martin Anderson
Fanfare, November 2017

First recordings of two tone-poems—Traumgesicht (1910) and Marjatta (1914)—by Erkki Melartin (1875–1937) revealed an orchestral master of the standing of Strauss, Karłowicz, Debussy, Respighi, Suk, and Ravel, who can move easily from orgiastic climaxes to tart and tangy writing of chamber-musical clarity, all the while remaining audibly Finnish, though he has points of contact with all of the composers I’ve mentioned. Perhaps because it sets a text from the Kalevala, Marjatta sounds explicitly Sibelian in its nature-painting, but Traumgesicht is one of those Maeterlinckian dramas of the mind, growing over its sixteen-minute span to a gloriously expansive coda. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Charles T. Downey
The Classical Review, December 2016

Top Ten Recordings of 2016 # 8

Ondine continues to reveal the delightful music of Finnish composer Erkki Melartin (1875–1937), after recording his six symphonies two decades ago. His tone poem Traumgesicht (“Dream Face”), an adaptation of his own incidental music, evokes the murky world of a Symbolist play with ethereal combinations of instruments. In Marjatta, Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski deploys a shimmering high range, veritably purring on the high, soft B-flats in the opening description of silvery birds singing. It features more iridescent orchestration as backdrop to an odd story drawn from the end of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, about a girl who miraculously conceives a son by eating a lingon­berry. The latest of the three works is Sininen helmi (“The Blue Pearl”), the first full-length ballet written in Finland, heard here in a selection of pieces arranged by conductor Hannu Lintu. © 2016 The Classical Review

Jeremy Pound
BBC Music Magazine, December 2016

Melartin’s lushly atmospheric orchestral soundworld is more akin to the likes of Richard Strauss than his Finnish compatriot, Sibelius. Soile Isokoski is simply glorious in the tone poem Marjatta. © 2016 BBC Music Magazine

Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, December 2016

I for one am particularly happy to witness some renewed interest in Melartin’s music which has at times been overlooked because of Sibelius’s overwhelming shadow. Earlier releases from this label have been most welcome and useful in helping restore Melartin’s true stature, most importantly of all his symphonies. The present release has much to offer indeed such as the magnificent work for voice and orchestra Marjatta beautifully sung here by Soile Isokoski. © 2016 MusicWeb International

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, November 2016

Performances and sound are excellent. Isokoski’s spectacular singing is further proof of her reputation as one of the outstanding sopranos of our time. She handles her role with consummate skill… © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Robert Markow
Fanfare, November 2016

The Finnish Radio Symphony is a highly disciplined band with a bright, focused sound, and turns in the level of performance we have come to expect from it. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, October 2016

The performances are top-notch and Laura Heikinheimo’s recording presents the sound of the orchestra—and Miss Isokoski—quite marvellously. The felicitous details of Melartin’s scoring register splendidly and the acoustic of the hall is conveyed most effectively. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Fanning
Gramophone, October 2016

…the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra may not be ideally opulent for such music. Still, under Hannu Lintu’s firm guidance they present each piece in a favourable light. © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Charles T. Downey
The Washington Post, September 2016

The latest of the three works is “Sininen helmi” (“The Blue Pearl,” Op. 160). …Hannu Lintu, who conducts the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in these fine performances, has made an arrangement of pieces from the ballet’s first two acts. © 2016 The Washington Post Read complete review

Bruce Reader
The Classical Reviewer, August 2016

There is some really fine music here that adds considerably to our knowledge of Finnish music during Sibelius’ own lifetime. The performances by Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra are first rate as is soloist Soile Isokoski. They receive an excellent recording made in the Helsinki Music Centre, Finland. There are excellent booklet notes from Tuire Ranta-Meyer and Jani Kyllönen together with full Finnish texts and English translations. © 2016 The Classical Reviewer Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, July 2016

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO) under their chief conductor Hannu Lintu gives wonderful readings of all three selections. They’re ideally complemented by lyric soprano Soile Isokoski in Marjatta, who sings this romantically lyrical work to perfection.

Made at the Helsinki Music Center, the recordings present a broad, deep, detailed soundstage in optimal surroundings. Ms. Isokoski and the other instrumental soloists are beautifully captured against the FRSO. The overall orchestral timbre is natural sounding with sparkling highs, a lifelike midrange, and clean low bass. © 2016 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

David Hurwitz, July 2016

Soile Isokoski sings with typically opulent tone and the kind of awareness of the words that makes us glad to have a native singer on hand, especially in such an unfamiliar work.

Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony play all of this music beautifully… © 2016 Read complete review

Erica Jeal
The Guardian, July 2016

[Traumgesicht] gets a darkly glowing performance here from the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu…

The highlight…is Marjatta, a setting of part of the Finnish Kalevala myth, commissioned as a companion piece for Sibelius’s Luonnotar and here gloriously sung by soprano Soile Isokoski. It may not be as gripping in its sweep as Sibelius’s work, but it is beautifully evocative. © 2016 The Guardian Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, July 2016

Another valuable and ear-prickling addition to the Finnish music discography. Keep up the good work, Ondine. Klami and Madetoja have already done reasonably well on disc. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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