Herzliche Grüße an unseren österreichischen Lesern! "Das Blog von Alex Ross" has been cited on Austrian Broadcasting (ORF) Online, in a feature on Finnland als Musik-Mekka.
I had been intending to write a follow-up feature on Finnish CDs. Here is an abbreviated version. Two outstanding Sibelius recordings by Osmo Vänskä, extolled in my New Yorker piece, are the First and Fourth Symphonies (BIS CD-861) and the complete incidental music to The Tempest (CD-861). Those seeking a deeper adventure into Sibelius' mind can pick up the two versions of the Fifth Symphony, which document the composer tearing his work to pieces and then putting it back together in miraculously perfected form (BIS CD-863). It's both thrilling and terrifying to behold — like that scene in Ronin when De Niro performs surgery on himself. Einojuhani Rautavaara's best work is his Seventh Symphony, recorded by both Ondine and Naxos. Gestures of the late-Romantic symphony unfold behind a dreamlike scrim. The darker-hued music of Aulis Sallinen is well represented on BIS CD-41. The avant-garde strain in Finnish music, which retained a certain humor and razzle-dazzle lacking in continental European forms (ahem), reached its apogee in Magnus Lindberg's junk-metal concerto KRAFT, which I was lucky to see performed live at the 1999 Ojai Festival (whence came the bunny pictures). Esa-Pekka Salonen recorded the piece in the 80s and recently made another version for Ondine (1017-2). The opening isn't quite as coolly explosive as the old disc, but the rest is raucous enough to cause the neighbors to call the police.
Update: Timothy Mangan of the Orange County Register, who was also present at that epic Ojai performance of KRAFT, reminds me that the instrumentarium included an array of radiators and brake drums dangling from a sycamore tree. At a climactic moment near the end, one of the Toimii jumped off the stage, ran down the aisle, banged on the auto parts with a mallet, and ran back to the stage. I'd like to clarify that the Toimii were no longer wearing their bunny suits at the time.