Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jean Sibelius - Kullervo (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  1. Kullervo, Op. 7: I. Johdanto (Introduction). Allegro moderato
  2. Kullervo, Op. 7: II. Kullervon nuoruus (Kullervo's youth). Grave
  3. Kullervo, Op. 7: III. Kullervo ja hänen sisarensa (Kullervo and his sister). Allegro vivace
  4. Kullervo, Op. 7: IV. Kullervon sotaanlähtö (Kullervo goes to war). Alla marcia (Allegro molto)
  5. Kullervo, Op. 7: V. Kullervon kuolema (Kullervo's death). Andante

Soile Isokoski, soprano
Tommi Hakala, baritone
YL Male Voice Choir
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor

Date: 2008
Label: Ondine
http://www.ondine.net/index.php?lid=en&cid=2.2&oid=3566

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Review

A clear-cut approach pays in early Sibelius – and Isokoski steals the show

As a fine Wagner conductor (his Tristan in Vienna this year was well received) Leif Segerstam knows something about pacing and maintaining a strong rhythmic profile over the longest spans of musical narrative, and for all the composer’s vaunted debt to Bruckner in the instrumental movements, a grander, operatic sweep seems more germane to this always intriguing, sui generis hybrid of symphonic poem, symphony and cantata. Segerstam’s second cycle of the numbered symphonies has at points such as the Seventh come a cropper with such largesse of gesture and tempo, but I can only echo Robert Layton’s reaction to Segerstam’s first recording (Chandos, 3/96 – now available as a download only), as “refreshingly straightforward” with “sound and well chosen” tempi. Perhaps partly due to a superbly contoured recording, but also the more keenly expressive responses of the Helsinki orchestra, especially its woodwind, the many transitions in the work seem to count for more, and in “Kullervo’s Youth” achieve a Mussorgskian abruptness and intensity.

That first recording was also graced by Soile Isokoski in the part of Kullervo’s raped sister, but here she surpasses herself – and, I think, anyone else I’ve heard – in creating a self-contained scena for her third-movement lament, vibrant and enticing before turning bitterly eloquent over her shame. Tommi Hakala and the YL Choir bring a complementary, sappy youthfulness that makes a welcome contrast to the stern declamations of Jorma Hynninen and his companions on several recordings. If the finale rather goes off the boil, the composer must take some of the blame; Isokoski too, for stealing the show with a contribution to this over-recorded work which deserves to win currency outside connoisseurs of early Sibelius.

-- Peter Quantrill, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
MusicWeb International RECORDING OF THE MONTH
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: *****
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/may/23/classicalmusicandopera2
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/o/ond01122a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sibelius-kullervo-mw0001872246
http://www.amazon.com/Jean-Sibelius-Kullervo/dp/B00175G7RW

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Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic and early-modern periods. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is widely known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems, especially Finlandia and the Karelia suite. Throughout his career, the composer found inspiration in nature and Nordic mythology. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Sibelius

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Leif Segerstam (born 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland) is a Finnish conductor, composer, violinist, violist and pianist, especially known for his 309 symphonies, along with his other works in his extensive œuvre. Segerstam has conducted in a variety of orchestras since 1963, mostly American, Australian and European orchestras. He is widely known through his recorded discography, which includes the complete symphonies of Blomdahl, Brahms, Mahler, Nielsen, and Sibelius, as well as many works by contemporary composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leif_Segerstam

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4 comments :

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  2. One can't go wrong with Leif Segerstam. My thanks to you.

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