A double dose of Kuula
Kesän mentyä. Complete Songs for Male Voice Choir
YL Male Voice Choir, cond. Pasi Hyökki, Ville Rusanen (soloist)
Finlandia Records 5053105707225.
Nuku virta helmassa meren. Complete Male Choir Works
Amici Cantus, cond. Hannu Norjanen, Sauli Tiilikainen (soloist)
The extensive output for male choir of Toivo Kuula (1883–1918) inspired two Finnish male choirs to release a complete recording on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of his birth. This allows for a tantalising direct comparison.
The readings given by the YL Male Voice Choir under Pasi Hyökki focus on robustness and clarity, while Amici Cantus under Hannu Norjanen is fascinatingly intimate. Both recordings demonstrate that male choir singing is in excellent shape in Finland today. Amici Cantus is joined by baritone Sauli Tiilikainen, while on the YL disc the soloist is Ville Rusanen. Tiilikainen is generous and gentle in his solos, while Rusanen gives his performance with the vim and verve of youth.
On balance, it is YL that comes out on top, not least because of the richer and more precise sound of the recording. The Amici Cantus disc, recorded as long ago as 2004, does not manage quite the same level of technical brilliance.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi