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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jean Sibelius - Kuolema; King Christian II (Leif Segerstam)


Composer: Jean Sibelius
  1. (01) Overture in A minor, JS 144
  2. (02-07) Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113
  3. (08-09) Two Songs from Twelfth Night, Op. 60
  4. (10-16) Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27

Pia Pajala, soprano
Waltteri Torikka, baritone
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor

Date: 2015
Label: Naxos



This is the first in a new series of six CDs from Naxos devoted to lesser-known Sibelius works and featuring Leif Segerstam at the helm of the Turku Philharmonic. For the 1898 Stockholm production of Adolf Paul’s historical drama King Christian II, Sibelius originally supplied four numbers (of which both the ravishing Elegie for strings and winsome Musette eventually made their way into the published suite), adding a further three (Nocturne, Serenade and Ballade) scored for larger forces the following year. Segerstam directs with his customary big heart and acute sensitivity for texture and mood, though some may feel he is inclined to dawdle. The young Finnish baritone Waltteri Torikka gives a wonderful account of the haunting ‘Fool’s Song of the Spider’, his eloquent contribution all but matching Sauli Tiilikainen’s on Petri Sakari’s Iceland PO recording (Chandos, 7/93).

In the six numbers that make up the 1903 score for Kuolema (a drama by the composer’s brother-in-law Arvid Järnefelt) it’s fascinating to encounter the ubiquitous ‘Valse triste’ and extraordinarily plangent ‘Scene with Cranes’ (the latter posthumously numbered as Op 44 No 2) in their original context. Soprano Pia Pajala makes a heady thing of Elsa’s song ‘Eilaa, eilaa’, while Torikka’s lustrous timbre sent shivers down my spine in ‘Paavali’s Song’. The disc is filled out with the disappointingly thin Overture in A minor (hastily cobbled together for the March 1902 Helsinki concert that featured the world premiere of the Second Symphony) and Two Songs from Twelfth Night, a fetching diptych from 1909 comprising settings for baritone of ‘Come away, Death!’ and ‘Hey, ho, the wind and the rain’ (the latter heard in an orchestration by Kim Borg); suffice to say, Torikka is again in splendid voice, and Segerstam offers most attentive support. The engineering 
is truthful throughout.


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.


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.


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  2. have a nice christmas time! sincerly

  3. Hello,

    Greetings from Shropshire, England.

    Thank you for all your efforts that you have expended in sharing your love of music with us – I really appreciate your generosity.

    There is much that I have been exposed to that I would not have otherwise been aware of.

    All the very best for the Festive Season and for 2016.


    Douglas (UK)

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