Sinikka Langeland - The Half-Finished Heaven - ECM 2377


Each of the musicians here - Lars Anders Tomter, Markku Ounaskari and Trygve Seim - has previously played with Sinikka in variety of contexts. Bringing them together, “testing out new ways of music-making presented its own challenges.” Lars Anders Tomter, one of Norway’s most distinguished classical soloists (“the giant of the Nordic viola” according to The Strad), has played Bach and folk songs with Sinikka for years (see the Maria’s Song album), but was unused to some of the freer approaches taken. Conversely, percussionist Markku Ounaskari, a resourceful improviser, was challenged by the more ‘classically’-structured pieces. “It was a playful process, putting our hearts into new experiments.” And with saxophonist Trygve Seim added, “The small melodic-motivic improvisations between us flowered even more.”

Conventionally, classical, jazz and folk players have differing rhythmic sensibilities but Sinikka notes that the group has drawn closer through the recording and the concerts around it.

“The folk polsdans pulse (as on “The Magical Bird” and “Hymn To The Fly”) is very close to my feeling of it. Markku also knows how to bring some great colours from the Finnish folk traditions, including the simplicity of the shamanistic low-pitched drumming that suits this music very well, both as drama and suggestion.” As for the kantele player herself: “I feel I’m also a happy instrumentalist now, not just waiting for the vocal to come around!”


Sinikka plays a variety of kanteles on “The Half-Finished Heaven”, her 39-string concert kantele, with its capacity for longer sustained notes, played almost like a classical harp, albeit on a table, as well as 10 and 15 string folk kanteles used primarily for improvising around tonal centres, “although I play quite freely on these, too.”