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Martti Talvela

Here is a Finnish lied ("Jänkä"), written by Kilpinen, one of Finland's greatest composers, and performed by Finland's greatest opera singer, the formidable Martti Talvela. Martti Talvela (1935 – 1989) had a Wagnerian bass voice of uncommon power and richness. He made his operatic debut in Helsinki in 1960. At 6 ft 7 in (201 cm), he was the tallest singer of his century. He was especially acclaimed as the hero in Boris Godunov and as Pimen from the same work, as Paavo Ruotsalainen in Viimeiset Kiusaukset, as a Wagner singer (King Marke, Hunding, Fasolt, Fafner and Titurel), as Sarastro and as Prince Gremin. As his final record he left, terribly thinned out by illness, a warm and heartfelt version of Schubert's Winterreise. He had one of the most remarkable bass voices in opera history: the combination of depth and timbre made him stand out in every part he sung, and his bass seemed to extend effortlessly without the "break" that most basses have to resort to hit their low notes.
Enjoy the talent of Martti Talvela, the greatest singer of the beautiful Finland!

1 comment:

Walrus-76 said...

Academic Yrjö Kilpinen was once a famous composer but today his name is very much forgotten here in Finland. Partly because his name is strongly connected with radical right-wing political opinions he had. Late Finnish music journalist and critic Seppo Heikinheimo once said that Kilpinen was "a quite bad composer, a known nazi sympathizer and saw himself bigger than he really was." It didn't help that he was for some reason very popular in nazi-Germany too.

This said, I personally found it very interesting that Kilpinen has today a society bearing his name in United States, established in 1999. Maybe his music has something special that makes people like it, I don't know. But if a random Finn is asked, who was Sibelius - everyone knows an answer instantly. But I would guess that 90 per cent of our adult population don't know who Kilpinen was. With Talvela it's a whole different story, he was a true legend and maybe the greatest bass singer ever...