Arab Today, arab today sibelius isn’t the only star composer
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Sibelius isn’t the only star composer

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Sibelius isn’t the only star composer

Helsinki - Arabstoday

The turn of the 20th century was a difficult time to be a lesser Finnish composer: Sibelius pretty much sucked the air out of the room. But other composers did exist, even if they have faded to posterity, and they creep into concerts now and then.Intriguing music from some of those largely forgotten figures was programmed this summer at the Bard Music Festival — devoted, of course, to Sibelius — and the Finnish violinist Linda Hedlund played short works by two others at her modest recital on Monday evening in the pleasant auditorium at the Scandinavia House.The highlight was Oskar Merikanto’s affecting “Valse Lente,” whose stirring melody distantly recalls Strauss’s “Zueignung.” The piece sings. Not surprisingly, Merikanto was a strong advocate for opera in Finland, and his “Maiden of the North” (written, like “Valse Lente,” in 1898 but not staged until 1908) is thought to be the first Finnish-language opera ever produced.Ms. Hedlund is a mellow artist, not given to rhapsodic flights or folksy flair, but her unsentimental approach was effective in “Valse Lente.” Her style was also well suited to the icy double-stops in Armas Jarnefelt’s moody “Berceuse” (1904). (Jarnefelt’s sister, Aino, was Sibelius’s wife.)There were two minor, obligatory-seeming selections from, yes, Sibelius: the spirited “Mazurka” (Op. 81, No. 1) and “Romance” (Op. 78, No. 2), both written around 1915. But I would rather have heard more from the other composers, perhaps one or two of Merikanto’s dozens of piano works. Andy Feldbau, who accompanied Ms. Hedlund, showed an instinctive taste for the style of this region and period — Romantic with a cool edge — but was not given any solo opportunities.The closest Mr. Feldbau got was the soulful piano part of Franck’s Sonata in A (1886), which opened the recital. He and Ms. Hedlund didn’t always have the same approach to the material. Mr. Feldbau phrased with nuance and expressive rubato; Ms. Hedlund was more reserved and wan. This is dramatic music that wants to be glamorously sold — not for nothing has Joshua Bell made it a calling card — but Ms. Hedlund seemed unwilling to sell it.After the foray into Finland, the recital ended, somewhat incongruously, with early Beethoven. Ms. Hedlund was joined by her fellow members of the Abedian String Trio — Taha Abedian, a violist, and Matthias Gredler, a cellist — in the Trio in E flat (Op. 3), from 1794.Throughout the recital Ms. Hedlund’s technical hiccups — slips in intonation, patches of rough tone, unintentionally sounded strings — distracted, each ever so slightly, from the musical line. But in the lively last two movements of the Beethoven she appeared to let go and just play; she finally seemed to be having fun.

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