Folk meets baroque

Violinist Kreeta-Maria Kentala combines classical violin and folk fiddling on her solo album Side by Side (Alba Records, 2016). The album has won several prizes in Finland including the Classical Emma or “Finnish Grammy”.

Kreeta-Maria Kentala, a Finnish pioneer in early classical music, was born in Kaustinen, the hotbed of Finland’s pelimanni (spelman) folk music tradition. The two musical languages, classical violin and folk fiddling, have in recent years carried on a lively dialogue in her music.

“People reacted very enthusiastically right away, from the first concerts,” she says. “After all Kaustinen music really has a spellbinding power, which doesn’t pale even alongside the world’s most spellbinding music, which really gets under your skin – that is, Bach! And the outcome of combining these also feels like more than the sum of their parts.”

Many in Finland now use the term ‘folk-baroque’ to describe the meeting of these two worlds. Kentala spread the term in Finland by using it as the title of her 2005 album. She’s amused that the term has since then become established here.

“Why not, I think it’s a good rhyming name! Sometime people ask funny questions like, so how do you play this folk-baroque? I don’t actually play that, but rather folk and baroque.”