A musical career having spent mostly in the background, playing diverse instruments on recordings of diverse genres and styles, Petri Hakala finally gets his reward in the form of Timo Alakotila’s compositions written directly for him and his mandolin. Alakotila is one of the gurus of the Finnish music scene and into this Mandolin Concerto album he once again gently compresses all the genres he has been gambolling about during his career - Finnish folk, Nordic jazz and classical chamber music.
Although the title of the album is Mandolin Concerto, the actual concerto is only the first half of the record. It follows the traditional concerto structure – three movements, the slower middle Movement, in this case a larghetto encompassed by the first allegro and the third danza. This is really one for the mandolin (and its player) to gleam!
There is a fourth concerto track on the record, unrelated to the complete concerto structure previously mentioned, however, the four tracks are connected through similar arrangements. Timo Alakotila himself is not present in these arrangements, but he is very much there in the music, proxy by his collaborators from the Kaustinen folk fiddle power house - best of the Järvelä dynasty, Mauno (here on viola) and his son Esko (on second violin), Siiri Virkkala playing first violin, adding Swedish maestro Roger Tallroth’s guitar sounds.
The other three tracks on the album represent more the Nordic jazz-folk side. Alakotila himself plays piano on these, Esko Järvelä and Roger Tallroth (and certainly Petri Hakala and his mandolin) remaining on stage from the chamber orchestra. Eeden evokes familiar melodic motives from the Kaustinen tradition, while Green Score instantly summons the sounds of Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek’s classic 1974 album, Belonging. The album concludes, and very lightly so, on its most intimate note, a duo between Hakala and Alakotila, mandolin and piano.
Mandolin Concerto provides a rarely heard line-up, a rich, although unmistakeably Nordic, amalgam of sounds, and some refreshing sonic surprises.
Petri Hakala – Timo Alakotila: Mandolin concerto
Åkerö Records, 2022