It's still 2008, and the Filter is still in Finland. Or, at least, it will be next weekend. I'm on a press trip to Kuhmo in the north-east Karelia district of Finland from 12 - 17 July for the famous Chamber Music Festival, with some canoeing and sauna-ing thrown in. It should provide a great opportunity to wrap up the Finland Filtered series with some home truths from the region that gave birth to the Kalevala.
Filling me in on Kuhmo last week were a couple of wonderful musicians I met in Ireland. Actually, I met quite a few, but Keith Pascoe, a lightly-accented scouser and now second violin in the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet (one of the Irish broadcaster's four performing ensembles), explained the philosphy behind the Kuhmo Festival in his singularly witty and colourful way, aided similarly by Simon Aspell, viola. I sound like I know these guys - but I and young violinist Aoife (pron. Eefa) only met them on Saturday at the festival's first night party, and three long nights of drinking at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry Bay ensued. So glad I met Aoife at the airport; I'd like to think we looked after each other for a few days lost amongst famous and wonderful musicians (actually, she's included in that). What warm, open people (must mention too, musician John O'Brien), which made the slow movement of the Vanbrugh Quartet's Beethoven Opus 135 all the more devastatingly.
The second performance I caught in Bantry (saw eight in total accross three days; the festival concludes this Sunday) was from Finnish pianist Antti Siirala, whose Chopin Preludes were simply breathtaking. It was a very Finnish performance; no flamboyant physiological gestures, though plenty of musical ones. After the concert, in the musicians canteen housed in one of Bantry House's rotund Georgian salons, Antti seemed faintly amused at my broken Finnish. When I told him I'd been on a self-funded holiday to Tampere and Helsinki in January, he roared with laughter. Very un-Finnish, I suggested to keith and Aoife, before we started talking about Karajan conducting Sibelius.
This isn't a review as such, just a roundabout way of saying that Finland is very much still influencing this Filter contributer's daily and musical life. That's also taking into account the 20 minutes of Finnish practise each morning and evening. More, this time from Kuhmo, soon. Nakemiin!