Part of the proceeds from the new disc of the Kamus Quartet are being donated to the protection of the Baltic Sea, but the thoughts prompted by the music on the disc are just as important. The Baltic, the mare nostrum of Scandinavia, is beautiful but heavily polluted, and concrete conservation measures may gain impulses from such non-conceptual cultural messages as this.
Radiantly optimistic National Romanticism would not seem an appropriate choice in this context, but fortunately the String Quartets of Carl Nielsen and Wilhelm Stenhammar have dark undercurrents under the shimmering, broad expanse of their surface. The Kamus Quartet balances an unforced sombre glow with an extreme sensitivity. It is a tough call to say which is the best quartet in Finland, Kamus or Meta4, but in the quality and nuances of the fundamental Romantic sound Kamus is the superior.
The message of the disc is encapsulated in Lotta Wennäkoski’s often-performed Culla d’Aria [Cradle of Air], whose delicate flageolets rock the listener gently in a texture of something very fragile and vulnerable. The tour around the Baltic concludes with the lament Sorg och glädje [Sorrow and joy] by Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi, a piece with long, bleak musical lines out of which the Kamus Quartet conjures an eerily quiet summer night in the outer archipelago.
The disc attunes the listener’s mind to protecting the Baltic Sea, and this in turn seems to imbue the music with even more meaning.
Kamus Quartet: For The Baltic Sea
Carl Nielsen: String Quartet no. 1; Wilhelm Stenhammar: String Quartet no. 6; Lotta Wennäkoski: Culla d’aria; Andrea Tarrodi: Sorg och glädje.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi