Sunday, 14 November 2010

Music findings

Not books, but a few interesting music tracks I've been enjoying:

A while back I ran into a nice free-bass accordion demo on YouTube: the video "Maria Kalaniemi charms with her accordion" features an virtuoso arrangement - listen 1:30 onward - of a Finnish folk tune called "Istunpa sänkys laitalla". It features on the collaborative album Iho. In a pleasant diversion, the YouTube discussion thread led me to an alternative spelling of the title as "Istuinpa sänkys laidalla", and this appears in a vocal version by Sirkka Mostrom on the album Folk Voices: Finnish Folk Song Through the Ages (which gives the English title as "I Sat on Thy Bed"). You can hear it at Sad Songs Make Me Happy. The two versions of the tune are rather different, but both are lovely. Do we have any Finnish readers who could say what the song is about?

Update: I asked elsewhere, and "Cantilena91" kindly translated the lyrics:

I sat on thy bed
looking at you...
I, from the bottom of my heart am thinking,
there rests my darling.

The love of my heart
is deeply rooted into you,
and all my former friends
have been wiped away from my mind.

O, poor boy, you!
Oh, so young at age were you
when you threw me to grieve
always up unto death.

The wind escorted (me) to sea,
the waves were raging too.
Your sorrow was escorting me too,
to sing only for you.

Oh my darling, o, beloved one,
when (as) I remember you,
the blood moved within my breast,
please don't forget me!
The blood moved within my breast,
please don't forget me!

On a more upbeat note, I was also pleased to discover the background to a tune that's currently featuring in the Christmas trailers on UK television: "The Carol of the Bells". I've always tended to dislike this as a "made-up" modern American carol with its banal lyrics and choral-set-piece flavour, but I find it has roots. The English words are a 1930s bolt-on, and the piece goes back to a 1916 choral composition by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych called "Щедрик" ("Shchedryk"), based on a folk chant and using the format of a traditional Ukrainian New Year carol to tell of a swallow bringing a household good luck. If you want a change from the ghastly doggerel (in my opinion) of the modern version - "Ding dong ding dong / that is their song" etc etc - check out Shchedryk on YouTube: for instance, Charivna's a capella version or this pleasant instrumental for string quintet on traditional instruments.

- Ray

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