Diane Jarvi: whimsy and gritty

A CD review by Susan Budig

Flying Into Blue (Lupine Records, 1999)

Diane Jarvi told me this CD was made to appeal to everyone with lots of lullaby
recordings. Indeed, looking through the tracts, I see many of the selections are
lullabies. But far from putting me to sleep, I am curious and intrigued. I even
find myself mentally singing the lead song, “Flying Into Blue” while exercising
at the gym! Needless to say, I don’t find it lulling.In Finland, Jarvi is known as the Minnesota Satakieli (The Minnesota
Nightingale). Aptly nicknamed, Jarvi’s voice is sweet, yet sensuous, matching up
with the melodic kantele, a Finnish folk harp. Jarvi plays the 36 string kantele
for the instrumental, “Kristiina’s Waltz” and also for a Russian karelia, “Makaa
Pieni Blatentsaine.” I imagine little fairies flittering about on their gossamer
wings during the song “Uni Tullee” sung in Ingria and played on the 5 string

About midway through the album, Jarvi’s voice changes. It becomes throaty and
full and ensconced with ethnic flavor as she pours out “Àillohas.” Jarvi says,
I try to enter the song and the language with as much empathy and respect as possible.” You’ll
hear that attitude in every note. This song, sung in Sami, is a joik, a tribute
to an event, landscape, emotion or person. Joiks are intrinsic to the Sami
culture. You might hear many other artists sing joiks, but you’ll never hear
another sung with the raw, yet understated power of Jarvi as she tells us of the
“wild child of the wild tundra.”

The many varied languages Jarvi uses could make for a chopped up compilation,
but not so with “Flying Into Blue.” The smooth transitions from Yiddish “Raisins
and Almonds” to the Spanish tongue of the Mexican tune, “Arrullo,” are seamless.
We are treated to a bit of Gaelic sound with “Mullach A’ Tsi.” When “Aa Tuuti
Lasta” is sung in Finnish, Jarvi sounds as though it’s her native tongue. And
well it might have been if her two sets of grandparents had stayed put rather
than emigrating to the United States from Finland. All the languages, all the
sounds complement one another without clashing or fighting. It’s a delightful
synchronization. http://www.cdbaby.com