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Finnish reeds legend Juhani Aaltonen, now 80 years old, and pianist-harpist-composer Iro Haarla, now 59 years old,  shared musical history encompasses more than four decades, including the work in Edward Vesala short-lived trio and in Vesala seminal Sound and Fury Ensemble. The two continued to play together after Vesala passing in 1999 in ad-hoc formation and in Aaltonen Quartet that released two album on TUM («Conclusions» in 2008 and «To Future Memories» in 2010).

Aaltonen always liked Haarla strong melodic sense and her delicate, story-line compositions that left enough room for his own open-minded and expressive improvisations. Haarla, on her side, always appreciated Aaltonen gift to charge her melodies with a deep emotions and his highly personal warm, singing voice. Altonen thematic development of her stories-melodies opened these compositions to new, surprising interpretations, still, returning eventually to the core melody.

«Kirkastus» (Glorification in Finnish), Aaltonen and Haarla, first duo album, reflects their strong interest in spirituality. All its compositions, penned by Haarla, most of them inspired by biblical psalms, are meant to celebrate «the glorification of a human being – the victory of the light of love». The interplay of Aaltonen and Haarla is immediate, natural and profoundly emotional. They sound often as one, extending each other’s improvised ideas in an organic, free-flowing, associative conversation.

True to both deep spiritual sensitivity there is a gentle, comforting dimension to their music. The beautiful, clearly articulated, song-like melodies like «Out of the Depths», «Arie – a Song for a Lost Love» and «Long Sole Sound», have an immediate caressing impact, adopting a modest, compassionate before the beauty and the positive in this life.  Or as Haarla recommends: «we all should look at life as if we were moving towards a clearing horizon on each day of our lives».

Warmly recommended.

Eyal Hareuveni

Juhani Aaltonen (ts, lute, altfl, bfl) ; Iro Haarla (p, harp, chen, perc)

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