Oskar Merikannon kauneimmat
Best of Oskar Merikanto

01 - Kesäillan valssi
02 - Valse lente
03 - Romanssi
04 - Mä oksalla ylimmällä
05 - Annina
06 - Pai, pai paitaressu
07 - Itkevä huilu
08 - Merellä
09 - Tuulan tei
10 - Miss' soutaen tuulessa
11 - Soi vienosti murheeni soitto
12 - Lastentaru takkavalkealla
13 - Idylli
14 - Scherzo
15 - Oi muistatko vielä sen virren
16 - Laatokka
17 - Miksi laulan
18 - Myrskylintu
19 - Jo valkenee kaukainen ranta
20 - Kesäillan idylli
with Izumi Tateno, Raija Kerppo, Kaija Saarikettu, Erkki Rautio,
Ralf Gothoni, Jorma Hynninen, Jaakko Ryhänen, ...
Biography by Robert Cummings

Oskar Merikanto was undoubtedly overshadowed by his Finnish countryman and contemporary, Jean Sibelius. That said, Merikanto was an important musical figure in his sphere still, particularly for his work in opera, song, and church music. He was instrumental in bringing operatic performances to the stage in Finland, and his Pohjan neiti (Maiden of the North) was the first Finnish-language opera ever produced. In the realm of church music Merikanto was active both as an educator and composer. But he will probably be best remembered for his songs. A good many of them from his numerous collections (nearly 150 in all!) and from among various lone efforts scattered throughout his output without opus, are regularly heard in recitals and on recordings. Perusing Merikanto's works list, one is struck by its enormity: for chorus alone there are well over 100 entries (some representing sizable collections), and for piano over 80, a body of work that contains, however, not one sonata or concerto! Merikanto typically wrote short works for solo instruments and voice, but his operas and incidental scores for the theater broke with this miniature-like pattern.

Oskar Merikanto was born in Helsinki, Finland, on August 5, 1868. Like Sibelius, his parents were Swedish speakers. The family name, too, Mattsson, was Swedish, which the father changed to the more Finnish-sounding Merikanto. Young Oskar divulged musical talent early on, with exceptional skills on the organ and piano.

In the period 1887-1888, Merikanto studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory. Even by this time, though, he was already active as a composer, with numerous piano works to his credit, including the Fantasia, for four hands (1885) and Two Träumerei (1887), as well as pieces for organ and songs.

Merikanto concluded his studies in Berlin in 1890-1891. In 1893 his son Aarre was born. He would also become a noted composer, his father being his first teacher and a profound influence in his life. In 1898 the elder Merikanto wrote the aforementioned opera Pohjan neiti, but it was not staged until 1908. From the early twentieth century Merikanto worked to promote opera in Finland, conducting and arranging many major performances.

Merikanto remained quite active in composition throughout his life. Perhaps his most popular sacred work, the hymn Thank you, Lord! from 1924, was among his last. But it still showed his usual mastery and inspiration. Merikanto died in Hausjärvi-Oitti on February 17, 1924.
Merikanto was the first composer in Finland to use Finnish texts in his songs, and this is the cause of the widespread popularity that his songs enjoy even today almost a century after many of them were written. A sympathetic interpretation by the deservedly distinguished Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen adds considerably to the simple beauty of these songs. Merikanto had produced over 150 songs at his death in 1924, many of which are surprisingly Schubertian for a composer who consistently rejected the German influence in favour of developing his own national voice.
This is one of these rare records that touched my heart from the first note played till the last one and repeat and again ... not a weak track ... well best of ... I have to admit that I did not know Oskar Merikanto ... yes I don't know much ... but now I do ... I always loved Jorma Kaukonen (I had to make this joke, but its no joke :)) ... and now there is Jorma Hynninen too ... just got it cause it says Finlandia, this label I knew ...  many of his songs have attained folk song status in Finland ... no wonder :) 
Tio Miguel (some time ago) 


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