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Finnish doesn’t ‘travel’ well. Non-native solo singers might make something of the language; foreign choirs very rarely do. Here’s a benchmark performance from Grankulla and Helsinki. Rakastava (The Lover) must have seemed avant-garde at the time (written in 1893!), with a difficult text from the Kanteletar and near-spoken elements. It’s shiveringly good. The op.18 Six Songs and Min Rastas Raataa (Busy As A Thrush) come from the same source, but interestingly there are several pieces in Swedish, the other (sometimes dominant) language of Finland, and transcriptions in German, English and Italian as well, all done with absolute idiomatic ease by Dominante. The Finlandia-Hymni is tacked on the end, but by no means an afterthought. In this context, it makes special sense, musical as well as nationalistic. A gold-standard recording.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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