My too quickly loved and lost Lumix camera may yet turn up at Cannon Street's lost property office (I only found out on Friday that Victoria, the terminus of the train on which I think I left it, was not the station where it might be lodged. They could at least have rung me back to tell me that my detailed report three weeks ago was misplaced). If it doesn't, I'll have to do without my own illustrations for the long-delayed chronicle of this year's Norfolk Churches Walk plus some spectacular shots of two very weird sunsets over Lake Vesijärvi in Finland. Goddam it, I'd have had all my Lahti pics if the camera hadn't run out of juice halfway through the download, thus not saving even the half it was supposed to have caught.
What I had saved before that was the cluster of pics taken on a blissful Sunday morning walk from the empty, not especially lovely town centre of Lahti down to the lake through the Kariniemi Park, knowing that I'd want to select one for my Arts Desk piece on the Lahti Sibelius Festival. The supply dries up around 1pm, when I came down the other side of the hill
to find Lahti citizens out and enjoying all kinds of leisure on the promenade along the lake; a pity those photos are lost, because I know I caught the interaction of people and nature rather well in some of them.
Still, it was a happy hour or so in what was the nearest I could get in my short stay to real Finnish woodland, and that's suitably recorded. This part of Kariniemi is officially an arboretum, though it seems to have evolved into a real forest, the light and shade playing on 12 reinforced concrete figures by local artist Olavi Lanu (born in 1925, died as recently as May of this year). The beauty of it is how they've weathered since the early 1990s, how moss and light contribute to their impact as they rest comfortably in what seems like their natural environment.
Standing guard alongside are different species of the northern trees which made Lahti an important centre for the timber industry in the 19th century - logs would be shipped through the lake system by boat and then taken by train to St Petersburg or south to Helsinki. So Paju ('Willow')
has the Siberian fir (Abies sibirica) as lofty companion
while the mossy couple of Harmaa tammikuu ('Grey January', looking anything but in early September)
stand in a glade featuring the Siberian larch (Larix sibirica).
Sun-and-shade-dappled Rankakasa ('A Heap of Twigs')
has Populus tremula, the aspen, to lend a green thought to a green shade.
The happiest harmony between art and nature is where the lovers of Kaksi Kivea ('Two Stones') try to kiss in a glade. In the second of two pictures it looks more as if they might be Pyramus and Thisbe, trying to make contact through the wall that parted their fathers.
Iso Kivi, 'Big Stone', yields up different interpretations depending on which angle you view it from, as must all good sculptures.
while Kierteeinen puu, 'Twisted Tree', seems like a blasted relic in amongst all the woodland life.
Hella Kivi, 'Tender Stone', finds another couple embracing in a way that makes one feel an intruder
and then, on the north-east slope down to the lake, nature takes over with mossy stone providing its own natural sculptures,
while glades of silver birch and beech trees show a softer aspect.
All the while Grieg's 'Morning' from his Peer Gynt music came wafting through the wood; I finally twigged that the musical fountain on Piku-Vesijärvi, the pond down in the park, was doing its 1pm stuff. Nature again took up where the music stopped, and an especially brilliant song came from a bird who was watching me intently. I'd be grateful if anyone could identify the masked avian.
Waxwings have eye-masks, and it could be that the crest is hidden, but I think they have other adornments which this bird lacks. The only ornithologist among friends of yore, Rob Innes, has vanished off the scene. Ony connect: he who once travelled to a really unattractive industrial part of China to track down a grey rarity on a roof also loved Sibelius; the Fourth Symphony was his favourite piece of music.
Feathery grasses waved in the bright early afternoon light
and the lake finally appeared through the trees.
I've already written with wonder of Lahti's greatest man-made wonder, the glass-shelled, wooden interiored Sibelius Hall designed on a tight budget by two Finnish architects of great imagination, Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula. It opened in 2000 and its even more amazing atrium with an indoor forest of columns -here seen from outside -
rising to a night-sky of fibre-optic stars positioned as they were at the time of Sibelius's birth 150 years ago.
The blazing skies of two different sunsets, and shots of my good companions, world-renowned acoustician Larry King and Musical America editor Sedgwick Clark, have been lost other than to fond memory (which should be enough), but reflections of the natural wonder in the glass of the hall on two different nights remain simply because I'd downloaded a couple of pics in readiness for my article. Here's the Sibelius Hall relatively close
and from the jetty by the Piano Pavilion, designer Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh, one of several wood and glass commissions in the vicinity.
As for the perfect sounds within, you can get some idea from the Lahti Symphony Orchestra's new BIS set of Sibelius symphonies with its current music director, the great if recently invisible (to us in the UK) Okko Kamu. I've just reviewed them alongside Rattle's Berlin cycle for the BBC Music Magazine, and if I say that the main opposition was the seemingly natural and spontaneous versus the artificial and beautifully-coloured, you'll have a good general idea of what I thought.