travelmusic Compiled and written by HARRI LINDFORS The sounds of Finnish music WHEN YOU pick up an album by Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski hailed by critics as one of today's brightest opera stars you can be sure of what's inside: each track will be stylishly interpreted by an amazing voice. Whether it's a collection of traditional Christmas carols or pearls from the opera world, pleasure is guaranteed for classical vocal fans. Scene d'amore, the latest addition to Isokoski's extensive discography, gathers A new album from the Emma Salokoski Ensemble EASY-GOING, relaxed, atmospheric, pure are a few adjectives that describe the Emma Salokoski Ensemble's second album. Veden alla ("Underwater") is an appealing blend of jazz, folk, pop and bossa nova. A veteran of nu-soul groups such as Quintessence, Salokoski has a lovely voice that's always a pleasure to listen to. This time around, though, the teamwork by her band especially brings a smile to the listener. Songs by various group members form the album's backbone, but there are also fresh takes on various Finnish rock and pop classics, as well as Salokoski's translation of Bob Dylan's bittersweet "Girl from the North Country." The band has arranged these cover versions to perfectly suit its own strengths. A pleasantly consistent mood runs through the album, but a broader range of emotion would not have undermined its internal harmony. Isokoski's voice dazzles. Her pure, colourful timbre and delicate phrasing never fail to delight. many of opera's best-loved arias, including standards by Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Gounod, Puccini and Verdi. Though these arias have been recorded countless times, this latest addition to the genre is well worth a listen. Isokoski's voice dazzles in Jukka Lehtinen its fluency. Her pure, colourful timbre and delicate phrasing never fail to delight. The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mikko Franck, supports Isokoski's interpretations with seamless collaboration. Rajaton sings Queen THIS WORLD-CLASS six-member vocal group returns in force with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, this time taking on a cavalcade of English rock band Queen's hits. The marriage of classical and rock is not always a bed of roses, and the world's record racks are lined with as many failures as successes in this realm. However Rajaton's sharp-edged collaboration with the LSO places it firmly in the winners' category. Conductor Jaakko Kuusisto has conjured up appealing arrangements of Queen's hits many of which have an innate orchestrality that provides a natural springboard. The album spans a broad palette from calm serenity to nearly manic frenzy. In between the action and symphonic might, the album's a capella tracks bring a welcome change of pace, as Rajaton truly comes into its own unaccompanied. After more than a decade together, Rajaton ("Unlimited") is an exceptionally versatile ensemble. The album's finest moments come when the singers forget Queen's original versions and soar on their own strengths. Soile Isokoski 20 BLUE WINGS NOVEMBER 2008
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