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  • Writer's pictureJess Kady

I'mma let you Finnish, but...

This is one of the greatest symphonies that has ever been written.

Perhaps it is simply the unimaginable talent and skill of the Tampere Philharmonic out of scenic Finland. The more I listen to this, the more I believe that the piece is simply that good from a compositional perspective. If this piece were a Tinder profile, I would "swipe right" so hard that the force of my arm would propel me into the heavens (and I am happily married). My experience of listening to a piece like this I imagine is like when the nerd kisses the cheerleader at the end of the 80's movie.

First, I want to thank public libraries for this piece. I stumbled upon this masterpiece when I was binge-renting CD's from my local library, to which I still owe fines. I definitely don't thank them for the fines, but I thank them for stocking the hidden gem of a symphony by the relatively obscure Finnish composer Jouni Kaipainen. Today while at work, I happened to recall this piece and how much I loved it back in college, and I scoured YouTube for the recording. I was very interested to see that the upload (of the same album that I was inspired by so many years ago) only had a few dozen views. It's tragic how a fantastic piece can go undetected in the seemingly endless sea of entertainment online.

But about the piece, the quality is almost unimaginable. To name just a few of the glorious qualities:

  1. The rhythmic and harmonic drive of the piece, even in the slower and more cerebral sections, keeps the piece far from boring or pedantic during every second. It has the percussive backdrop of a Hans Zimmer movie soundtrack, if Mr. Zimmer had the class of the royal family, that is. And while you hear themes come back and repeat, you can feel a stark difference between the versions, as they are transposed and re-imagined in such a way that, even though you have no idea what the actual transposition is, it feels like you were meant to go there.

  2. The orchestration is some of the best I've experienced. When a bassoon is performing a solo, the orchestra is perfectly balanced behind it as to not drown it out. The composer trusts the horns and trumpets to do insane acrobatics and scales, and to do them with perfect homage to each of their natural characteristics. The ranges of each instrument are perfectly respected, giving them each their proper sound in their proper context

  3. The piece is a proper journey. As Journey so profoundly stated, "Don't Stop Believin'," and I'm sure that Jouni would agree with Journey. While each theme and transition has a heavy but palpable level of chaos, you hear those same patterns and themes again after enjoyable stretches of journey between, and each time with just the right amount of newness, keeping the piece ever exciting, but also very familiar.

  4. If any of you have doubts about the future of music, this piece was finished in 2004. There is still good music being created. Unfortunately, Kaipainen is no longer with us, but the incredible recent-ness of this piece gives me hope that there is no lack of greatness in concert music even in our debased post-modern age.

I hope you enjoy taking this "Jouni" along with me and listening to all three incredible movements. The high point for me is at about 7:00 into the first movement, where there is a very surprising climax that jumps out at you. If you're not careful, it will feel like you're walking through a dark forest, and a wild beast jumps out at you, knocking you to the ground.


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