Outi Tarkiainen

Midnight Sun Variations

Songs of the Ice

Milky Ways

The Ring of Fire and Love


Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Nicholas Collon, conductor
Nicholas Daniel, cor anglais

Finnish contemporary


Sleeve notes in English and Finnish

World première recordings


February 2024

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1432-2


Track listing

CD 55:06
Outi Tarkiainen (1985)
1 Midnight Sun Variations (2019) 10:28
2 Songs of the Ice (2019) 12:18
Milky Ways (2022), Concerto for cor anglais and orchestra 21:33
3 I. The Infant Gaze 6:54
4 II. Interplays 4:53
5 III. At the Fountainhead of God 9:46
6 The Ring of Fire and Love (2020) 10:15

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Complete description

Outi Tarkiainen (b. 1985) has rapidly risen to the ranks of Finland’s internationally most successful composers. Born in Lapland, the landscape of this mystic Arctic region has proved a constant source of inspiration for her. This new album by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Nicholas Collon featuring Nicholas Daniel as soloist, includes some of the composer’s most recent orchestral works, including Midnight Sun Variations commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic and by the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada, and premiered at the BBC Proms in 2019. Outi Tarkiainen’s works are marked by strong atmosphere and rich orchestral textures.


Midnight Sun Variations (2019) is not a set of variations in the traditional sense, with an identifiable theme that is then varied; instead, it is a process where nature renews itself both as an entire ecosystem and as a personal and physical manifestation of the birth of a new human life. In the orchestral texture, we can identify Sibelian motifs, filigree-like wind writing, string fields and scintillating percussion shot through with the dwindling light of an Arctic summer. All these details are bound together by the overall dramatic arc that descends from its culmination to the start of something new.


Commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Songs of the Ice (2019) is a sibling work to Midnight Sun Variations, and the two may be performed separately or together in whichever order. Here, too, the music stems from natural phenomena in the Arctic region and reminds us that humans are only a part of the cycle of nature and belong to nature. Ice can be permanent, hard polar ice, but the cycle of seasons and climate change can also render it fragile and transitory.


Milky Ways (2022), a Concerto for cor anglais and orchestra, was jointly commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and BBC Radio 3, and it is dedicated to oboist Nicholas Daniel “in memory of his dear mother”. The Ancient Finns called the Milky Way literally ‘track of the bird’. The Ancient Greeks, on the other hand, thought that the belt of stars across the sky resembled milk, and it is from the Greek word for milk (gála) that we get the word ‘galaxy’. The concerto takes its title rather literally, in reference to breastfeeding an infant.


The Ring of Fire and Love (2020) was premiered by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Sakari Oramo. The setting for this piece is more exotic than in Tarkiainen’s previous works. The common elements here are the inseparability of humans and nature and the formative experiences that establish us as a part of nature. Here, again, the link between the geothermal and human contexts is the birth of a child, which is not often addressed in music.


Nicholas Daniel has long been acknowledged as one of the world’s great oboists and is one of Britain’s best-known musicians. He has significantly enlarged the repertoire for his instrument with the commissioning of hundreds of new works. He has also developed a varied and exciting conducting career alongside his playing, and both these aspects of his work are equally important to him. As a conductor he made his BBC Proms conducting debut in 2004. In recognition of his achievements, he was honoured in 2012 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Music and cited as having made “an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the nation”. In October 2020 he was awarded an OBE. He has been a concerto soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, performing a huge range of repertoire from Bach to Xenakis and beyond, premiering works written for him by hundreds of composers.


The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO) is the orchestra of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle), and its mission is to produce and promote Finnish musical culture. The Radio Orchestra of ten players founded in 1927 grew to symphony orchestra proportions in the 1960s. Its Chief Conductors have been Toivo Haapanen, Nils-Eric Fougstedt, Paavo Berglund, Okko Kamu, Leif Segerstam, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sakari Oramo, Hannu Lintu, and as of autumn 2021 Nicholas Collon. In addition to the great Classical-Romantic masterpieces, the latest contemporary music is a major item in the repertoire of the FRSO, which each year premieres a number of Yle commissions. The FRSO has twice won a Gramophone Award: for its album of Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto in 2006 and of Bartók Violin Concertos in 2018. Other distinctions have included BBC Music Magazine, Académie Charles Cros, MIDEM Classical awards and Grammy nominations in 2020 and 2021. Its album of tone poems and songs by Sibelius won an International Classical Music Award (ICMA) in 2018. In 2023, the orchestra was nominated for Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year award and won a Gramophone Award for their Lotta Wennäkoski album.


British conductor Nicholas Collon is recognized for his elegant conducting style, searching musical intellect and inspirational music-making. He began as Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony in August 2021 – the first non-Finnish conductor ever to hold this post. From 2016–2021 he was Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orkest in Den Haag (latterly also Artistic Advisor) and was Principal Guest of Gürzenich-Orchester from 2017–2022. Collon’s plans in Helsinki in 2023/24 include a focus on Richard Strauss, a residency with Sir George Benjamin, as well as plans to premiere an unprecedented 13 new works. He also leads the Aurora Orchestra in their residencies at Kings Place and at the Southbank, where they have reinvented the concert format with their ‘Orchestral Theatre’ Series. Together they appear regularly at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Cologne Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, and festivals such as Bremen, Rheingau, Schleswig Holstein, Gstaad, and the BBC Proms where they perform every year in their hugely popular memorized performances.