VELI-MATTI PUUMALA (b.1965): Anna Liisa.
Catalogue Number: 07R069
Reference: ODE 1254-2D
Description: Puumala's opera is based on the play by Minna Canth, a study of nineteenth-century rural Finnish society and of the place and status of women within it. It incorporates the idea of the eponymous heroine's emancipation from the strict mores of the time and her personal redemption through confession of a terrible crime. Anna Liisa is the daughter of a wealthy landowner. She had an affair with a farmhand, Mikko, and bore his child. She killed the infant in a moment of panic. Years later, she is betrothed to another man, but Mikko and his mother reappear and, intent upon social advancement, insist that she marry Mikko instead, resorting to blackmail to coerce her. Anna Liisa's family urge her to accept the deal in order to avoid disgrace, but instead she publicly confesses to her crime and is led away to prison, finally at peace with herself. The strength of the opera, as of the original play, lies in the detailed and complex interactions of sharply drawn personalities, and the crowd, representing society. Puumala achieves this through similarly precisely delineated musical portrayals of characters and situations. An avowed modernist, his overall vocabulary is largely not tonal, and his material is based on note-rows, though these are treated with a great deal more freedom than traditional serial precepts would permit. However, in the interests of narrative the composer incorporates folksong material, both actual and his own 'synthetic' original; a folk-derived vocal idiom for the character of Mikko's mother; and as required, thoroughly tonal episodes of music for public scenes of lesser psychological complexity than those involving the principal characters. Motifs suggesting the ticking away of time, previously encountered in Puumala's Seeds of Time (05N077), add a certain restless rhythmic urgency, and by contrast, several important monologues and duets have a timeless, floating quality of pure melodic threads, so pure and unadorned as to be unclassifiable, but beautiful and genuinely moving. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Finnish-English libretto. Helena Juntnen, Tanja Kauppinen (sopranos), Jorma Hynninen (baritones), Ville Rusanen, Helsinki Chamber Choir, Tapiola Sinfonietta; Jan Söderblom.