Finnish composer Pessi Levanto is the first film music talent to be featured in progressive soundtrack label MovieScore Media’s new Portfolio project. No less than eight original film scores, featuring nearly 300 minutes of orchestral music composed by Levanto, will be released worldwide in digital format on July 9, 2021, to be available for streaming and download on all platforms, also in high resolution via selected outlets. The films and scores featured in the MovieScore Media Portfolio: The Film Music of Pessi Levanto collection range from Levanto’s early 2008 scores for Tears of April and The Novelist to the 2017 score for Backwood Philosopher.
“Pessi Levanto is a major talent on the Nordic film music scene, as recently confirmed by the Harpa award nomination he received for his inventive Psychosia score. Since we released our first album with Pessi, the romantic orchestral score for Oma maa, we have been his soundtrack label partner on all projects and decided to create the Portfolio project in order to give him - and in the future also other, similarly talented composers, this very special treatment. We believe that the film music industry and our fan-base alike will be baffled by the quality of Pessi’s extraordinarily beautiful writing,” said MovieScore Media’s producer Mikael Carlsson.
The eight original film scores featured in this premiere edition of the MovieScore Media Portfolio are the following:
● The Novelist (2008) - director: Hannu Kahakorpi
● Tears of April (2008) - director: Aku Louhimies
● Backwood Philosopher (2009) - director: Kari Väänänen
● Body Fat Index of Love (2012) - director: Mikko Kuparinen
● Rolli and the Golden Key (2013) - director: Taavi Vartia
● Armi Alive! (2015) - director: Jörn Donner
● The Midwife (2015) - director: Antti J. Jokinen
● Unexpected Journey (2017) - director: Samuli Valkama
In terms of genres, the music range from light but elegant comedy such as the Henry Mancini-esque Body Fat Index of Love, to serious world war 2 drama such as The Midwife to the John Williams-inspired family adventure Rolli and the Golden Key. All of the eight scores are primarily orchestral and recorded either by Finland’s top instrumentalists or with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
The Novelist (Päätalo, 2008) tells the real life story of Finnish author Kalle Päätalo, focusing on his formative years as he wants to break away from his life as a contractor to become a writer, but his unhappy marriage and financial problems are suppressing him from doing so. "Instead of going for realistic époque-music we decided to use music to illustrate Päätalo’s dreams and aspirations as a struggling novelist. The result is an impressionistic and a bit whimsical portrayal of the protagonist’s rich inner world."
Tears of April (Käsky, 2008) takes place during the Finnish Civil War between the white and the red factions. When a female soldier of the reds is captured by the whites, she is ordered to be executed, but an unlikely romance puts a hold on her ordeals. "Despite the grim setting, since this was essentially a love story between a couple from opposing sides (a lá Romeo and Juliet) the music had to be suspenseful at times, but our focus was more about the bittersweet romance which could never happen."
Backwood Philosopher (Havukka-ahon ajattelija, 2009) is based on the popular Finnish novel of the same name by Veikko Huovinen. Self-taught philosopher Konsta Pylkkänen guides a group of researchers through Finland's Kainuu wilderness in the hopes of having a "sinistä ajatusta", idea out of the blue. While firing upon a hybrid of the hazel grouse and the western capercaillie, he indeed makes a scientific discovery. “In this score, I really wanted to focus on the peculiar character of the home-grown philosopher, so the music aims to illustrate his colorful musing about life, space, and nature in a quirky, yet whimsical fashion."
Body Fat Index of Love (Rakkauden rasvaprosentti, 2012) is set in the media world as a couple form an arrangement to have sex once a week with no strings attached. As expected, this doesn’t work in practise and they have to confront their genuine feelings for each other. “I wanted the music to be light and playful and to have an underlying groove to keep things rolling nicely along as it’s not the most serious of movies. So I used latin percussion, light strings and woodwinds. This is also the first time I used a classical saxophone in a film score within the woodwind section to make the sound a little bit different." This score was nominated for a Jussi award, the "Finnish Oscars”.
Rolli and the Golden Key (Rölli ja kultainen avain, 2013) was a sort of a comeback film for Rolli (or Rölli in Finnish), a very well-known character in Finland, who used to appear in TV in the 90’s. The production company wanted the sound of a grand adventure. “We used a grandiose 80-member orchestra for colourful and playful fantasy adventure music. We also overdubbed parts for a solo soprano and a kantele, which is a traditional harp-like Finnish folk instrument. ” The score was nominated for a Jussi award, the "Finnish Oscars”.
Armi Alive! (Armi elää!, 2015) is another biographical picture, this time telling the true story of a powerful businesswoman Armi Ratia, who founded a successful clothing empire Marimekko. However, there is a twist to the narrative which affects the music as well. As Armi Alive! Is a sort of a meta-film about a play being rehearsed about Ratia’s life, the music follows suit. “In this film, the music has a stage-like quality as if there was a pit orchestra accompanying the play. As such, I had to find the fine line between creating a cinematic score with the comparatively limited scope of the theatrical scores."
The Midwife (Kätilö, 2015) is a dark film set in the end of World War II when the alliance between Finland and Germany was broken and the Finns suddenly found themselves fighting two enemies. The film a love story between a Finnish woman and a German officer who all of a sudden are on opposite sides. "The score is traditionally orchestral with rather dark and rather gloomy undertones as there is a lot of death and suffering. There are some solo parts for joiku, which is a traditional way of singing of the Sami people of Lapland." This score was nominated for a Harpa award, which is an award for best score from the Nordic countries.
Unexpected Journey (Saattokeikka, 2017) is a road movie of sorts. A grumpy and somewhat racist old man named Lasse hires 16-year old immigrant Kamal, to drive him to somewhere he doesn’t want to reveal. "Me and the director were after a whimsical and dream-like atmosphere where the journey into rural Finland feels like some sort of fantasy world, quite different from the concrete suburb the young guy is used to." In order to match the rural quality of its subject matter, the score was recorded with the orchestra of the city of Jyväskylä from the middle part of Finland.
Pessi Levanto has scored around twenty full-length feature films, thirty short films and documentaries plus miscellaneous spots and commercials. He has released seven records of his own and played in and done arrangements for dozens of others. Besides his film work, Pessi is a sought-after arranger. His project Classical Trancelations with the Helsinki Philharmonics, had sold-out shows of orchestral versions of club music classics. His scores for Oma maa, Swingers,Psychosia and recent TV series Piece of My Heart are also available from MovieScore Media. Among Levanto’s upcoming scores are the one he wrote for the Norwegian thriller, The Innocents, directed by Eskil Vogt and in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival - the score album for this film is also set to be released by MovieScore Media later this year. [https://moviescoremedia.com/newsite/]
Jeremy [Six Strings]