Monday, August 14, 2006

New internet archive for contemporary music

Back in May the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra began broadcasting on the Internet via the FRSO website, with the site offering programme notes in Finnish, Swedish and English. The orchestra is premiering four works during the season 2006-07, three of them commissions from the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE): a Violin Concerto by Jouni Kaipainen, a new orchestral work by Jovanka Trbojevic and Symphony no. 4 by Eero Hämeenniemi. The FRSO will also be premiering Aulis Sallinen’s Chamber Music V: Barabbas Variations in an arrangement for piano and string orchestra by Ralf Gothóni. The first performances in Finland will include Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone, Thomas Adès’s Violin Concerto "Concentric Paths", Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Symphony no. 5 and Kaija Saariaho’s Cello Concerto (in its European premiere). Find details, and listen to FRSO webcasts via this link; they include Mahler 9 (3 Sept), Joonas Kokkonen: Symphony No. 4 (15 & 16 Sept), Luigi Dallapiccola Due pezzi (20 Sept) and Arvo Pärt: La Sindone & Symphony No 3 (29 Sept).

I have already written about YLE's extraordinary treasure trove of historic MP3 downloads which includes recordings by Dinu Lipatti, Pablo Casals, Alfred Cortot, Kirsten Flagstad , Yehudi Menuhin, Arturo Toscanini, and many, many more. In September this web service will expand to take in a new sound archive when YLE launches its Elävä arkisto (Live Archive) site on 9 September. This material will include FRSO concert recordings both recent and old. The performances in the archive will be conducted by Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo and his predecessors Paavo Berglund, Okko Kamu, Leif Segerstam and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Visitors to the archive will also be able to hear samples of concerts given by the orchestra on tour around the world.

The core of the Internet archive will consist of a broad selection of works commissioned by YLE and other premieres by the FRSO, and many of the items will be important Finnish works that are not available on disc and that have therefore not been accessible to listeners for years, or even decades. Among the contemporary composers with works in the archive will be Jukka Tiensuu (right), Uljas Pulkkis, Paavo Heininen, Juha T. Koskinen, Pehr Henrik Nordgren, Usko Meriläinen, Eero Hämeenniemi, Seppo Pohjola and Harri Vuori. The performances will be live concert or studio recordings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The Finnish orchestras internet service results from an agreement between YLE and The Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society (Teosto) and the Finnish Musicians’ Union. On An Overgrown Path congratulates the Finnish Broadcasting Company and Orchestra for creating a visionary strategy that will result in a sustainable internet resource of both contemporary and historic recordings, and for adopting a consultative approach. This strategy is in stark contrast to the BBC's much hyped approach of offering downloads of popular works such as the Beethoven symphonies for short periods only, a tactic which by the admission of their own Annual Report was carried out without adequate prior consultation.

By working together the Finnish broadcasters, musicians, copyright owners and unions have succeeded in creating a viable long term business model for making important music available over the internet on demand, and have succeded where the mighty BBC has failed. The BBC should now admit the error of their ways, adopt the Finnish model, and make available online the huge, and very important, resources in their archive which include recordings of their commissions from Boulez, Stockhausen, Birtwistle (left), Maxwell Davies, and many others.

* To provide a neat Finnish to my article tonight's (August 14) BBC Prom is being played by the subject of my article, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under their talented Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo, and the programme includes Finland's greatest composer Jean Sibelius and Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski singing Strauss' Four Last Songs - and the whole concert is available as a webcast from the Finnish National Broadcasting Company.

* Find details, and listen to FRSO webcasts via this link

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2 comments:

Henry Holland said...

Pliable, I hope Auntie Beeb heeds your call. There's got to be a ton of stuff buried in their vaults that's worthwhile. With opera all but dead as a proposition for studio recording and not that many live recordings coming along, there must be some great operatic stuff in there. I'd love to hear Maxwell-Davies Tavener, the early Birtwistle like Yan Yan Tethera and weird things like David Blake's The Plumbers Gift and Robin Holloway's Clarissa that I have on cassette but which sound like they were recorded to cassette using string and two tin cans.

Of course, there's the various German radio orgs like SWR, NDR and so forth that must have some incredible performances that haven't been heard since they were broadcast.

Pliable said...

I have long treasured the BIS CD of Pehr Henrik Nordgren's music Towards Equilibrium, and note with pleasure that he is one of the composers to be featured in YLE's archive.