Sväng plays Tango

The Finnish Tango according to Sväng
Galileo Music – GMC 081
Tango has a very special place in the hearts of finnish people, so special that it has become part of musical identity of Finland along with Jean Sibelius, folk fiddle legend Konsta Jylhä, ancient runosongs and heavy metal music.
Aki Kaurismäki – the country´s best-known film director stated “Tango is simply our national music” and M.A.Numminen argued that in Finland Tango serves both as hymn and matchmaker for couples.
20th century, specially the decades after 2nd world war was heyday for the ultra-melancholy tangos. Lyrics of the Finnish tangos were almost always about longing for the lost love. The melodies were always in minor. Naturally.
Tango was, and still is, one of the favourite folk dances in dance halls. The Finnish tango dance is not too complicated. It is actually quite close to cross country skiing or nordic walking as couples. Still the passion is there, just deeply hidden. Finns certainly do have feelings, but there is seldom a reason to show them in public.
Sväng members have selected their own highly subjective playlist of traditional Finnish tango adding their own creative impact to it by composing also some original tangos. Though the essential part of original tangos was romantic lyrics Sväng wanted to bring out the beauty of the melodies with instrumental arrangements.
Tango has been indispensable part of Sväng music from the very beginning, not a single concert in band´s history has been performed without at least one tango.
“Sväng plays Tango” (galileo music, GMC-081) is the bands 8th studio album and released on the 6th of July. In Finland it is presented in a concert at Kaustinen Festival (including tango dancers Marjo Kiukaanniemi ja Timo Hakkarainen).


After 14 years of touring and having released 6 CDs it is time to look back for a short moment! Finnish harmonica wizzards of SVÄNG do so with their new album HAUPTBAHNHOF (main station) and present some new recordings from their extensive repertoire of nordic dance grooves, tangos and balkan rhythms. But only favourite tunes of audience and band were considered worthy to be re-performed in the sudio!
HAUPTBAHNHOF contains 13 all time favourites – from the very first composition Jampparaleele to Liikkuva Linna, the arrangement of the moving waltz from Japanese anime movie Howl´s moving castle.
The album also includes a special surprise: I´m gonna meet my mother in glory. Sung by Eero Turkka, this breaks for the first time ever the principal of Sväng to publish only music played on the harmonicas solely. Now this very much beloved encore song can be finally found on an album!
It would not be SVÄNG if there couldn´t be found also musical look into the future. HAUPTBANHOF also presents three new – future – all time favourites. Eero Turkka composed a kopanitsa (a bulgarina traditional dance in 11/16 rhythm), Jouko Kyhälä contributed a finnish polska. And Eero Grundström decided to arrange John Williams beautiful Hedwig´s theme from Harry Potter.

Sväng plays Sibelius

Year 2015 is the 150th birthday of Jean Sibelius. Sibelius is the most remarkable classical composer from Finland. The meaning of his music for Finnish people is much more than only music.

Sibelius was born in 1865 the time when Finland was still a part of the Russian empire. Finland separated from Russia and got independent only year 1917, the same year as Russian revolution took place.

Sibelius and some other artists of the time like painters Albert Edelfelt and Akseli Gallen-Kallela, writers Eino Leino and Juhani Aho and architect Eliel Saarinen had important part in building of the Finnish identity in the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. In the beginning of 19th century Elias Lönnrot collected huge collection of folk poems to form the national epic Kalevala. Gallen-Kallela and Edelfelt were painting themes from Kalevala and creating the image of Finnish nature and people. Sibelius was the one to create musical expression of the same themes. Later the artists of this era were called “national romantic” because of their mission to create identity to Finnish people, who had been hundreds of years under the Swedish empire and later a hundred years part of Russian.

From this historical perspective the meaning of Sibelius’ music has become kind of common knowledge for Finnish folks. Lot of his music has appeared in important situations of Finland’s history. Some of his compositions have appeared in movies also. Any Finn knows at least one Sibelius’ composition, Finlandia.

Why Sväng wants to play Sibelius’ music then? Because we love his music, and we want to show people that you can play master’s music also with harmonicas without making a joke of it. We want to make our versions, include a bit of Svänging attitude to the music, but still honour the composer’s great work.

Challenges of playing Sibelius with four harmonicas are quite big. We don’t want to split his works or steal only the best known parts out of the symphonies. No, we want to make it decent. Eero Grundström and Jouko Kyhälä have earlier experience of arranging classical music for Sväng from the project “Sväng plays Chopin” (2010). This time the challenge was just much bigger: Chopin’s music was mainly piano scores or small orchestrations. Now they had to tear open whole orchestral partitures and find the essence of the big orchestral works. Finally it came out quite naturally; it sounds like the music is natural repertuar of Sväng, but behind the scenes there is hundreds of hours of arranging, and tens of meters of new score to read.

When we chose the music to arrange Sväng had different approaches. Some of the music is simple songs or choral pieces that are fascinating because of their pure sense of melody. Some of the music is huge orchestral pieces that were just too great temptation to avoid: we love this great music… would it be possible to do transform this for Sväng? And finally the answer was: yes, it is.

From the orchestral works Sväng chose Lemminkäinen’s return (part of Lemminkäinen-suite, based on Kalevala), three parts of Karelia-suite (Karelia is the eastern part of Finland where lot of Finnish folk culture is originated), Valse triste, Andante festivo and Impromptu.

Vocal works that Sväng performs as instrumental are beautiful song Souda, souda sinisorsa, choral piece Venematka and a bit humoristique March of the Jäger’s.

Sväng is celebrating Jean Sibelius anniversary


Sväng is celebrating Jean Sibelius anniversary

The master Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was born 150 years ago in 2015. Sväng is confident that during his silent years 1920-1922 Jean Sibelius had his harmonica and his cigar while walking in a forest of Ainola. Already in the turn of the century he has composed great pieces, like Impromptu which clearly calls for the melancholy and limpid sound of a tremolo tuned harmonica. Op. 22 number 4, in which Mr. Lemminkäinen returns from his endeavors and Op 11, The Karelia suite sounds also great with harmonica.

Sväng is bringing a comprehensive take of Sibelius music to you in 2015. We have been working hard on the arrangements and rehearsals so the it is time to show you something:

Here is early preview of lasts weeks studio work, enjoy.

Leaving for a rehearsal break

Thank you for the great conclusion of the season in Meidän Festivaali – Tuusula, Ocarina Festival – Bled, Auditori Pau Casals  and Festival Les Traversées Tatihou.
We really enjoyed your hospitality and great audience!

Sväng will now leave for a rehearsal break until the end of year.
A brand new project has been on works for several months now but plenty of work is still ahead for us.

Will keep you posted.

Karjala-La is here

Images from the album release concert in Helsinki April 1, 2014.