Sunday, November 24, 2013

Maria Kalaniemi - Vilda Rosor [2010 Finland] @320

When “I Fjol,” the first track in Finnish accordionist -- and singer -- Maria Kalaniemi’s Vilda Rosor (Wild Roses) kicks in, the listener might very well do a double take, as the banjo pickin’ of Janne Viksten is among the first sounds to greet the ears. Like most of the material on Vilda Rosor, this is a Finnish-Swedish folk tune, but that banjo -- soon to be joined by lowdown reedy accordion and pluckings from other bandmembers -- wouldn’t seem out of place rising from an Appalachian holler. And then there is Kalaniemi’s voice, strong and clear in the upper registers on the choruses, with an authenticity suggesting late-night jam sessions more than her training at the academy and world-renowned virtuoso status. It is a measure of Kalaniemi’s confidence as a singer that she doesn’t over-emote, bringing touches of vibrato and folk inflections and matching, never overpowering, the diverse instrumental backing on these tunes, with Viksten's banjo occasionally reappearing and fitting in just right (eight musicians are featured in various combinations on the disc, playing instruments including fiddle, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, harmonium, jouhikko, and double bass). And in fact, the most downright thrilling moments on Vilda Rosor arrive thanks to her voice on the title track, Kalaniemi’s only composition on the album. “Vilda Rosor” has no pyrotechnical playing on the accordion -- which is used mainly for chordal support -- but instead derives its greatest power from a stunning chorus sung by Kalaniemi, entering suddenly as the reeds swell beneath it. In another twist, the instrumental break in “Vilda Rosor” is taken by Mikko Kosonen on electric guitar, verging toward blues-rock yet spacious enough to find a comfortable place backed only by accordion and banjo.

Another highlight is “Magdalena På Källebro,” a medieval ballad arranged by acoustic guitarist (and frequent Kalaniemi collaborator) Olli Varis, who backs the leader’s vocal with ringing harmonics before the entrance of a deep, nearly orchestral, foundation from, one suspects, Eero Grundström’s harmonium. The tango “Under Fullmånen,” with Kalaniemi unaccompanied, can’t help but suggest Piazzolla and, like the music of the Argentinian nuevo tango master, it brings out the accordion’s capacity for deep soulfulness, while “De Rosor Och De Blader” finds Kalaniemi and friends (notably fiddler Arto Järvelä) equally soulful mixing the Baltic with the Balkan. “Videpiano,” one of two pieces composed by Kalaniemi’s late Accordion Tribe bandmate Lars Hollmer and originally on Hollmer’s Andetag album, is simultaneously stately, sturdy, and heartfelt; here the tune maintains its original flavor in a sparser arrangement, with Kalaniemi -- joined only by a late entry from Grundström on harmonica -- beautifully ornamenting the melodic lines. Andetag’s (and Accordion Tribe’s) “Cirkus II” -- also featuring Kalaniemi and Grundström here -- is a manic, even jarring contrast with the album’s rather melancholic tinge elsewhere, but like “Videpiano” is a welcome inclusion and hopeful indicator that the Hollmer repertoire will take root in more recordings during the years ahead.

01 - I fjol
02 - Vårens väna grönska går (Suvitunnelma)
03 - Videpiano
04 - De rosor och de blader
05 - Under fullmånen (Täysikuu)
06 - Magdalena på källebro
07 - Cirkus 2
08 - Vilda Rosor
09 - Sven i Rosengård
10 - Jeppo (Grannas bastun)

Maria KALANIEMI: voice, accordion
Eero GRUNDSTRÖM: harmonium, harmonica
Arto JÄRVELÄ: fiddle
Mikko KOSONEN: electric guitar
Pekko KÄPPI: jouhikko, voice
Pekka LEHTI: double bass
Olli VARIS: acoustic guitar, dotar
Janne VIKSTEN: banjo


Anonymous said...

Maria is a great musician, always worth to listen and delve into her tunes. The album is just another among so many wonderful ones the fy crew has already provided to an eager and (hopefully!) grateful audience.
In this post, however, I'm missing a helpful comment about how to find the sample for listening.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. where is the link?

CrimsonKing said...

I forgot the samples link.
Here is:
Vilda Rosor


Anonymous said...

It`s a pity, rapidshare dont work for me

Anonymous said...

THX, Crimson!

zeporro said...

thanks for this album!

Anonymous said...

Hi.Could You upload Altan Urag - "Nation" or "Once Upon a Time in Mongolia"?

CrimsonKing said...


Vilda Rosor


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