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Ondine quickly outstripped their original mission. Their fourth release, dedicated to Thomas Einojuhani Rautavaara, conquered an international audience in the years of 1987-1988. With a sound displaying undeniable expertise, Ondine quickly became the architect of a Finish musical renaissance, in line with the Finlandia label, as they used the name and music of Rautavaara as a pillar. There are more than 25 references, actively, to the Ondine catalogue online.

Early in its existence, Ondine affirmed its very strong roots in Finnish music and culture. It focussed on Finnish music, and on Finnish musicians. The label made exciting discoveries, showcasing names that were previously unheard of both in Finland and abroad: Väinö Raitio, Aarre Merikanto, and Erkki Melartin, who once served as the best representatives of Finland; Jukka Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Sakari Oramo, the Finnish Chamber Choir, Karita Mattila, Soile Isokoski, Ralf Gothoni, and the Tapiola Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra (from the city of Espoo) serve as the best representatives for today. 

Without doubt the finest Ondine discs probably date from a certain period, a veritable golden age. The label produced some absolutely outstanding achievements, worth of an ideal discography: Jorma Hyninnen singing songs by Sibelius, but also Rautavaara’s vocal works for mixed choir by the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir (a simply extraordinary work!), Melartin’s Symphonies 1 to 6 by Leonid Grin (the Fourth Symphony, consisting of sumptuous music, remains one of the most dazzling Finnish scores of the early 20th century), the Symphonic Poems of Merikanto (beautiful Pan!) by Tuomas Ollila-Hannikainen, and the two Raitio opuses (simply indispensable) by Saraste and Ollila-Hannikainen. This is all without mentioning the Pingoud, Englund, and Kokkonen programmes… and, more recently, the superb ‘Talescapes’ recital by the YL choir. The importance played upon contemporary Finnish music facilitates the idea of continuity in artistic policy superbly…

Impressed by such a success story, today many international artists continue to sign with the Finnish label, such as Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt, and Benjamin Schmid. Nevertheless, Ondine has continued its defence of the talents of Finland. The young pianist Paavali Jumppanen has performed the vast anthology of Beethoven sonatas for the label, with a release soon to follow. The prodigious conductor Hannu Lintu continues to develop, boldly directing his initiative towards some still too little known composers (such as Enesco).


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