Veli-Matti Puumala: Anna-Liisa
Helena Juntunen, soprano; Jorma Hynninen, baritone; Tanja Kauppinen, soprano; Ville Rusanen, baritone; and Sanna Kurki-Suonio, ethnic mezzosoprano. Tapiola Sinfonietta, Helsinki Chamber Choir, cond. Jan Söderblom.
Ondine ODE 1254-2D
Anna Liisa (2001–2008) by Veli-Matti Puumala (b. 1965) is a realistic, plot-driven opera based on the eponymous play by Minna Canth (1844–1897). While set in 19th-century rural Finland, it embraces universal themes of crime, atonement and emancipation, and the focus on the mindscape of the title character links the work to more recent drama traditions. Puumala’s richly detailed and carefully crafted music is rooted in atonal post-Expressionism, but occasional quotes from and allusions to folk music serve to link the work to the original time and location of the narrative. The musical profiling of the scenes is intense and accurate, and the music traces an arc of wonderful tension and emotional impact over the entire drama. As a result, Anna Liisa comes across as one of the most significant Finnish operas of all time.
Soprano Helena Juntunen (See also pp. 26–27) gives a brilliant performance in the extremely heavy and demanding title-role. Baritones Jorma Hynninen and Ville Rusanen and soprano Tanja Kauppinen are also on very good form indeed. The precision of the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the excellent studio sound make this an opera recording to remember.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi