Enter the Plektronites (Plektroniitit tuloo)
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cd cover Plektronite
Enter the Plektronites (Plektroniitit tuloo)
Skycap (www.skycap.de)

Formed in 1998 by three Sibelius Academy students, the Finnish mandolin trio Plektronite shows off the color, vibrancy and versatility of an oft-overlooked instrument. They give us a novel, fresh and lively approach to Finnish folk music. One mandolin always adds energy to a tune but three might seem at first to be too much of a good thing. But it works brilliantly on this collection of traditional and new tunes. The mandolin and its cousins prove themselves to be capable of a wealth of emotional range in the hands of this scholarly-looking trio.

The three Plektronites, Juha-Matti Kurra (mandolin, mandocello), Petri Prauda (mandolin, cittern) and Jarmo Romppanen (mandolin, mandola), vary the pace and emotional range in a selection of 13 waltzes, schottisches, polkas and minuets drawn from the tradition. The opener, "Risumäki-beat," is a catchy medley of shepherd tunes. "Anna ya Wilhelmi" presents a beautiful wedding waltz composed by the band that is optimistic, touching and simple.

They are capable of other sounds as well. "Puistolan Paavin Parempi Sottiisi" or, in English, the "better schottische of the pope of Puistola," has a Celtic tinge to it. On "Maari's hambo" a new polska by the band, there's a Pat Metheny influence. "Mazurkat 1282 and 1294" sounds almost baroque. A couple of upbeat schottisches, "Siina ja Siina" provide a fast-paced coda.

While quite at home with converting the old dances into contemporary pieces, they sparkle on a whole range of original material too. "Enter the Plektronites" is a march they wrote for their arrival at the sauna. "The Night of the Plektronites" is another Kurra and Prauda composition that is complex, moody and classical.

The Plektronites' good-humoured approach brings the spirit of rock, folk, Celtic and even classical influences to bear on all of this music. Kurra, Prauda and Romppanen above all bring a true musicality, and a real understanding of both the technical and passionate sides of their art. With this they pull off what might be considered a difficult feat - a minor masterpiece based almost completely on the mandolin and its close relatives. - David Cox

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