The World in the Forest.



The World in the Forest

Morgenbladet 27.02 2015


Sinikka Langeland is one of the Norwegian artists who most clearly combines the local with the international. In a sense she breaks out of the ordinary Norwegian mould through her use of song traditions from Finnskogen and the string instrument kantele. But her collaborations with jazz musicians have consistently shown that this is music that communicates with the world without local restrictions, and Langeland’s releases on the ECM label place her work within a global context.

On The Half-Finished Heaven, her fourth ECM record since Starflowers (2007), she has gathered some of the threads from previous recordings. The project focuses on ensemble work among Nordic jazz musicians, as on the first recording and on The Land That Is Not (2011). Here Langeland offered a textual dimension with her musical settings of poems by Edith Södergran and Hans Børli, among others.

Maria’s Song (2009), which combined folk songs about the Virgin Mary with compositions by Bach, was an exception from this method, and illustrated the deeper roots of Langeland’s work. Here, however, although the aspects of the work relating to feminism and musical dramaturgy were notable, they lacked the improvisational and collaborative elements that marked the other records.


Birds. This time Langeland combines musicians from these two parallel paths. She lets violist Lars Anders Tomter from Maria’s Song meet Trygve Seim (saxophone) and Markku Ounaskari (percussion) from the jazz band. This opens up new possibilities for her, and reveals additional nuances in the music. In “Hare Rune” the ensemble is reminiscent of Karl Seglem, while associations with pop and rock groups ranging from Bel Canto to Mona & Maria are also evoked.

The music moves from positively funky, as in “The Magical Bird”, to bordering on the sentimental, as in the title cut. But Langeland has control over the expressive element, and she and the other musicians keep their sense of balance.

Nordic poetry is represented by three settings of poems by Tomas Tranströmer. Langeland emphasises the Nobel laureate’s natural mysticism, and sets the poems in compositions inspired by nature and animals. Birds have an especially strong presence on the record, with woodcocks, cranes and blue tits appearing in the song titles. In the last-mentioned, Tomter is given the opportunity to imitate birdsong.


Constantly developing. A world-class performer, Langeland upholds her reputation by maintaining high quality in every detail. She herself is a kantele virtuoso, and her playing ranges from high-pitched melody lines (“The Tree and the Sky”) to deep, grating tones (“Caw of the Crane”). Using the kantele as her focal point, she leads the musicians in an interplay that highlights, not least, Tomter’s skill as a performer, whether he is improvising together with Langeland in “Animal Miniatures” or interpreting the theme together with Seim in “The White Burden”.

Here Langeland displays her expertise as a composer, performer and bandleader, and as the originator of an expressive idiom that can be traced as far back as to the record Har du lyttet til elvene om natten (1995). The ensemble enhances Langeland’s ability to break with traditions and cross-connect them, and the entire package fits nicely into the constantly broader artistic scope that the ECM productions are enabling her to develop.


Jon Mikkel Broch Ålvik


Nordic Collection

Nordic Collection



Sinikka Langeland

“The Half-Finished Heaven”



Dagsavisen – 27.02.2015


New music from Sinikka Langeland is always an important event. As one of Norway’s few kantele players she is much more than merely a curiosity; she is a unique artist who preserves and modernises a distinctive musical heritage. Since her previous album, the masterly The Land That Is Not (ECM, 2011), she has, among other things, composed several highly acclaimed commissioned works which certainly ought to be recorded, and was a guest artist with the group Big Bang on a recording and at the Oslo Spectrum concert hall. The Half-Finished Heaven is a continuation of her series of albums with ECM. This is truly pan-Nordic music, and she becomes a one-woman Nordic Council when she brings together Finnish and Norwegian jazz and classical performers and sets major Nordic poems to music. This time she sings three poems by Tomas Tranströmer, but her main focus is on newly composed instrumental music, some of which is based on traditional music from Finnskogen.


Yet again it is exquisitely beautiful; the forests are singing out with something great and ancient in this music. Birds are a recurring theme, as the title of the album suggests, and several song titles underscore the theme of stretching out and finding one’s wings. All the same, I cannot shake off the feeling that the ensemble work was more exciting in the previous record, which featured Arve Henriksen on trumpet and offered more challenging sounds. Here there is less contrast between strings and strings, with Lars Anders Tomter on viola, while Trygve Seim on trumpet sometimes veers towards the clichéd image of ECM jazz (reverb, repetition of simple melody lines, very breathy tone). But we can comfort the critic from Bergens Tidende, who when reviewing Langeland’s previous record stated that it was certainly good, “…but this is demanding music”. This one is, for better or for worse, less challenging.


Playing at the National Gallery, 19 April.





By Henning Bolte on February 24, 2015

Sinikka Langeland (1961) is a Norwegian vocalist virtuoso brings the Finnish kantele harp table to life. The instrument sounds sometimes here as a pedal steel guitar (The light streams in, Hymn to the fly), a harpsichord (The half-finished heaven), a koto again (Animal miniatures, Animal Moment), a Breton harp, dobro (The blue tit’s spring song) or even a hurdy-gurdy (Hymn to the fly).

It is not only a key tool in the folk music of Finland and Estonia, but spreads out to the Urals. Langland who gained international recognition with her three previous albums Starflowers (ECM, 2007), The Land That Is Not (ECM, 2011) and Mary’s Song (ECM, 2009) can be heard on this new album with the two Norwegians,
Lars Anders Tomter on viola and Trygve Seim on saxophone plus Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari.

All have played longer in ensembles of Langeland but this combination opens up a whole new special sound world within twelve pieces including three vocal on poetry by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (1931) who in 2011 received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The opener Hare Rune (Rune Song of the hare), a slow, intoxicating pow wow with shamanic reminiscences, does not lie. Ounaskari often used a larger bass drum and what he here with it, Heef the total. Tenacious repetitive but no time mechanically, not smashing but precisely because the more insistent. Particularly through the whole album over the sound symbiosis of the instruments.
Often in pairs, they are first indistinguishable from each other until at one point one of the relevant instruments of the fusion reappear and draw their own contrasting lines. This happens many times for the viola and the saxophone but also for the bass and viola or the cymbals and the kantele.

It is not only this, said sound variation Langlands kantele and a subtle but impressive dynamics. Impressive is also what they accomplish with so few instruments Tomter his extra raunchy picking and ironing, Seim with its curving, deep whirring and fleeting saxophone sounds Ounaskari with his earthy bass drum, subtle cymbal work and well-timed hand drumming.

Langlands kantele not only provides amazing variations klankkarakte- characteristics. She puts more solid groundwork and rises to great heights equally glistening as particularly impressive in Caw Of The Crane.

And do not forget the invisible hand in the design on construction of the album! Geniuses are in a sense Hare Rune, The Woodcock’s Flight and Caw or Crane But the other pieces are no exception particularly strong.



Sinikka Langeland (1961) is een Noorse vocaliste die virtuoos de Finse tafelharp kantele tot leven brengt. Het instrument klinkt hier soms als een pedal steel guitar (The light streams inHymn to the fly), een clavecimbel (The half-finished heaven), dan weer een koto (Animal miniatures, Animal Moment), een Bretonse harp, een dobro (The blue tit’s spring song) of zelfs een hurdy-gurdy (Hymn to the fly). Het is niet alleen een centraal instrument in de volkmuziek van Finland en Estland maar spreidt zich uit tot aan de Oeral. Langeland die internationale erkenning kreeg met haar drie eerdere albums Starflowers (ECM, 2007), The Land That Is Not (ECM, 2011) (zie op Written In Music HIER) en Maria’s Song(ECM, 2009) (zie op Written In Music HIER) is op dit nieuwe album met de twee Noren, Lars Anders Tomter op viola en Trygve Seim op saxofoon plus de Finse slagwerker Markku Ounaskari te horen. Allen hebben langer in ensembles van Langeland gespeeld maar deze combinatie opent een geheel nieuwe, speciale klankwereld binnen de twaalf stukken waaronder drie vocale op poëzie van de Zweedse dichter Tomas Tranströmer (1931) die in 2011 de Nobelprijs voor literatuur ontving.

De opener Hare Rune (Runelied van de haas), een langzame, bedwelmende pow wow met sjamanistische reminiscenties, Langeland-Sinikka-05[Kjell-Ivar-Walberg]liegt er niet om. Ounaskari gebruikt vaak een grotere bas-drum en wat hij hier ermee , heef het totaal. Vasthoudend repetitief maar geen moment mechanisch, nooit smashing maar juist daardoor des te indringender. Bijzonder door het hele album heen is de klanksymbiose van de instrumenten. Vaak in tweetallen zijn ze eerst niet van elkaar te onderscheiden tot op een gegeven moment één van de betrokken instrumenten uit de versmelting weer te voorschijn komen en eigen contrasterende lijnen trekken. Dat gebeurt menige keer voor de viola en de saxofoon maar even goed voor de basdrum en de viola of de cymbalen en de kantele.

Het is niet alleen dit, genoemde klankvariatie van Langelands kantele en een even subtiele als indruk- wekkende dynamica. Indrukwekkend is vooral ook wat zij met zo weinig instrumenten bewerkstelligen, Tomter met zijn seim_14okt_kuara+trygve-seim_web_3_foto-gerhard-richterextraordinair pluk- en strijkwerk, Seim met zijn buigende, diep gonzende en vliedende saxofoonklanken, Ounaskari met zijn aardse bas-drum, subtiel bekkenwerk en goed getimed hand drumming. Langelands kantele zorgt niet alleen voor verbazingwekkende variaties aan klankkarakte- ristieken. Ze legt steeds stevig groundwork en stijgt evenzeer glinsterend naar grote hoogtes zoals bijzonder indrukwekkend in Caw Of The Crane. En niet te vergeten de onzichtbare hand in de opzet op opbouw van het album! Uitblinkers in zekere zin zijn Hare RuneThe Woodcock’s Flight en Caw of Cranemaar de andere stukken zijn zonder uitzondering bijzonder sterk.

De muziek spiegelt de beleving en de impact van natuur met een bijzonder balans tussen de uiterlijke, fysieke en de innerlijke beleving. The Light Streams In en The Tree And The Sky, beide op IMG_2322een gedicht van Tranströmer zijn daar fraaie voorbeelden van. Zowel in de lyrische compositie als de muziek blijft het moment van gewaarwording even ‘staan’. Woodcock’s Flight en Caw of Crane verliezen zich niet in mimicry van de natuur maar diepen tonaliteiten op die associaties met Eleni Karaindrou en met Country Blues oproepen. The Magical Bird daarentegen, baserend op een dans uit de Finnskogen, swingt – met een battente gespeelde kantele – als de neten. Met de groeten aan Jan Garbarek. Zelfs in Hymn To The Fly krijgt mimicry niet de overhand. Enige uitzondering: Animal Moment, de vrolijke afsluiter van 20 seconden met mooi kreupelhoutgeluid. Maar daar kan de luisteraar dan zelf de zingende context van zijn. The half-finished heaven is een diep album van even grote als universele zeggingskracht.

LYRICS De werken van Tranströmer zijn naar het Nederlands door Henk Bernlef vertaald.

Marlbank Sinikka Langeland, The Half-Finished Heaven, ECM ***1/2

The Norwegian singer/kantele player Sinikka Langeland has a substantial track record on ECM dating back nine years, her music straddling the traditional folk side of the label’s output and the non-aligned swathes of improvised music the label has put out since 1969.

Langeland’s previous albums left little footprint on my own personal interior soundtrack I must confess. But this one has made much more of an impact on me, perhaps it will on you too. Naturalistic impulses underpin Langeland’s artistic outlook and here she sets texts of the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer to music on three tracks also finding some space to incorporate some of her older music dating back to the 1970s. Recording with a small ensemble in Oslo’s Rainbow studio – that’s violist Lars Anders Tomter, The Source’s Trygve Seim, tenor saxophone, and Markku Ounaskari on percussion – on the title track Langeland uses the remarkable 39-string kantele, the Finnish dulcimer.

Opening with ‘Hare rune’ Eastern sounding, like an instrumental chant, ‘The Light Streams In’ following has a beautifully sad vocal from Langeland ancient sounding on the Tranströmer poem. Seim leads the plangent melody of ‘The White Burden’ into a comfortable space for the ensemble and one of the nice things about the album is its sparseness but also its revelatory qualities, and the title track certainly has a limpid stately grace to it, a quality many of the tracks here share. Stephen Graham

Out now. You can listen to a sampling of the album here  

Sinikka Langeland, above. Photo: Dag Alveng/ECM

The Guardian / Delicately lucid … Sinikka Langeland The Half-Finished Heaven review – poetry-inspired folk-jazz

Sinikka Langeland
 Delicately lucid … Sinikka Langeland

Sinikka Langeland is a Norwegian folk-singer who plays the zither-like Finnish kantele, but she regularly collaborates with jazz musicians – including Trygve Seim, who appears alongside classical viola player Lars Anders Tomter and percussionist Markku Ounaskari on this set, partly devoted to the work of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. It’s a session replete with beautiful sounds: Seim’s soft outbreaths pulsing through the tenor against Ounaskari’s deep, sepulchral booms; Langeland’s delicately lucid vocal tones against the precise but rough quality of Tomter’s viola; mysterious, metallic abstractions displaced by a pulsating viola rapture on Caw of the Crane. There isn’t a lot of jazz soloing, but it isn’t all on tiptoe – The Magical Bird is a deep, breathy jig and then an urgent groove, The Blue Tit’s Spring Song rocks, with Langeland playing a choppy strum instead of her usual lyrical figures. For music inspired by the life of forests, and so rooted in traditional folk forms, Langeland’s themes are often invitingly modern-sounding, too.

VÅRT LAND 18.02.2015 Hva er den halvferdige himmel?


Hva er den halvferdige himmel?

Jeg har fundert mye på det. Hva har Tomas Tranströmer tenkt i det diktet CD-tittelen er hentet fra? Der sier han at angsten er over og selv spøkelsene tar seg en klunk. Det handler kanskje om det at man transformeres inn i noe nytt. For noen kan det dreie seg om å kunne gå fra en vond til en bedre fase, eller det handler om å kjenne en litt annen virkelighet. Jeg har ikke lett for å finne ord uten å falle i en grøft. Det risikerer du om du prøver å beskrive en guddommelig virkelighet med ord som folk fort tar avstand fra.

Jeg leter etter ord på noe som det ikke finnes ord for, bakenfor alt det vi er og gjør. Noen ganger er det nøkler som åpner opp, andre ganger stenger det. Tranströmer omskriver mange religiøse sannheter slik at det åpner opp. For meg handler denne CD-en om å være på vei inn der. Samtidig peker Tranströmers dikt på jorden. Når han skriver at «innsjön är ett fönster mot jorden», da tenker jeg at det er himmelen her det handler om. «Var människa en halvöppen dörr – som leder til ett rum för alla» er en annen setning om det samme.

Jeg har laget musikk til dikt av Hans Børli, Edith Södergran, Olav H. Hauge og nå Tomas Tranströmer. Diktene er viktige for meg. Jeg leser ikke så mye, men når jeg skal tonesette og framføre, blir det et langvarig arbeid som gjør at jeg kommer dypt i diktene. Jeg kjenner få dikt, men jeg kjenner dem godt.

Det spennende med denne platen er at jeg ble utfordret av ECM-produsent Manfred Eicher til ikke å jobbe med tekst for å se om jeg kom i kontakt med noe av det samme. Han ville jeg skulle lage og skape et instrumentalstykke for solokantele. Det var godt. Jeg hadde spilt noe solo før, men ikke i den grad som her. Etter hvert kom musikerne med. Det er fantastiske musikere jeg har jobbet mye sammen med: Lars Anders Tomer (bratsj), Trygve Seim (saksofon) og Markku Ounaskari (perkusjon).

Selv om det er mye egenkomponert musikk, er det fortsatt med en polsdans fra Finskogen som jeg har arrangert og improviserer over. Folke-musikken er med meg, og jeg henter inn elementer derfra i musikken jeg lager. Fortsatt har jeg en del folketoner liggende som jeg vil ha fram. De venter på en mulighet.

Når jeg har solooppdrag, kan jeg kombinere runesang og religiøse folketoner med egne viser. Egentlig tror jeg dette har vært folkesangerens metode bestandig. Hører du på opptak, så sang de alt mulig; skillingsviser, nyere viser sammen med det gamle stoffet.

Det er blitt mye komponering de siste to-tre årene. Nå har jeg lyst til å spille mer. Det blir like mye konserter i utlandet som her i landet. Jeg skal på min fjerde turné til Japan nå. Jeg er dessuten nettopp ferdig med å spille inn neste plate sammen med kvintetten og Trio Medieval. Det dreier seg om verket Sammas – Himmelsøyle som jeg skrev til Finnskogutstillingen og Kirkemusikkfestivalen i 2012. Det kan ta et par år til den skal utgis.

Av Arne Guttormsen

Sist sommer feiret Sinikka Langeland sitt 20-årsjubileum som musiker med urframføringen av verket «Mysticeti» tilegnet blåhvalen. Aktuell med CD-en The half-finished heaven blant annet basert på Tomas Tranströmers lyrikk.

© Vårt Land

ECM Records New Release: “The half-finished heaven” by Sinikka Langeland

New Release: “The half-finished heaven” by Sinikka Langeland

The half-Finnish Sinikka sets “The half-finished heaven” – and other verse by Tomas Tranströmer – on her fourth album for ECM. “Despondency breaks off its course / Anguish breaks off its course / The vulture breaks off its flight. / The eager light streams out …” Such vivid images establish a tone for what is primarily an instrumental album this time, with a striking blend of sound-colours in music written by Langeland. Sinikka’s kanteles – 10-string, 15-string, and 39-string table-harps – seem to carry archaic echoes older than “folk” tradition. Lars Anders Tomter has been described by string-players’ magazine The Strad as “the giant of the Nordic viola”. One of Norway’s most distinguished classical soloists, he also has a history of collaborating with players of other idioms, and appeared on Sinikka’s “Maria’s Song” album (as well as on ECM discs with Terje Rypdal and Ketil Bjørnstad). Saxophonist Trygve Seim and drummer Markku Ounaskari were both members of Sinikka’s quintet heard on “Starflowers” and “The Land That Is Not” and play together in contexts including the Kuára Trio. Out of this network of musical relationships Sinikka has created a characterful quartet with a strong identity of its own.

Sinikka til evig tid. Publisert 26.08.2014 GRUE: Om hundre år er ikke allting glemt. Sinikka Langeland blir portrettert av Morten Krogvold i 50 år på Riksscenen. Anita Krok Glåmdalen

– Det er ikke jeg som valgte henne – men Riksscenen! sier landets mest profilerte portrettfotograf.

– Og det gjør det til en enda større ære, legger Krogvold til.



– Sinikka representerer noe helt spesielt innen musikken.

– Hun er tradisjonsbærer med røtter i fortiden, dette kombinert med en tidløs tolkning, det er det som hun gir videre til fremtiden, fastslår Morten Krogvold.



Sinikka Langeland er komponist og folkesanger fra Finnskogen. Hun er oppvokst i Grue og har etter hvert fått hele verden som arena, om hun er studiomusiker for Øystin Greni i California, eller på turné med egne band med sine egne komposisjoner.

I sommer feiret hun sitt 20 års jubileum som musiker med urframføringen av storverket «Mysticeti», tilegnet blåhvalen og den sårbare naturen i kulturhuset Støperiet i Tønsberg i sommer.

Kritikerne gikk omtrent av hengslene etter konserten og selv Vårt Land mente dette var skrevet inn i evigheten.



– Urkraft, det er en urkraft i det Sinikka lager. En melankolsk lengsel som kler landskapet i ditt distrikt, kommenter Morten Krogvold.

– Som Hans Børli henter Sinikka stoff fra de store tanker og bringer det inn i en personlig verden. Hennes musikk vil aldri dø. Det er kun det moderne som kan bli gammeldags. Dette er evigvarende!, sier Krogvold.

– Dette er ærefullt for tradisjonen vår her i distriktet og for meg selvfølgelig, kommenterer Sinikka Langeland.

Hun er én av de 11 som er blitt portrettert av Krogvold og får den ære å henge på veggen på Rikscenen de neste 50 år.



«Våre forbildet», portrettert av fotograf Morten Krogvold: Mari Boine (sang), Inga Juuso (joik), Annebjørg Lien (hardingfele), Sven Nyhus (fele), Knut Hamre (hardingfele), Martin Myhr (dans), Knut Buen (hardingfele), Sinikka Langeland (sang/kantele) Kirsten Bråten Berg (sang, Embrik Bergplass (torader), Kouame Sereba (sang, perkusjon)

Riksscenen er scenen for nasjonal og internasjonal folkemusikk, joik og folkedans, den ligger i Schous Kulturbryggeri i Trondheimsveien 2, Oslo.

sinikka Langeland