Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jean Sibelius - Scaramouche (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • (01-10) Scaramouche, Op. 71: Act I
  • (11-21) Scaramouche, Op. 71: Act II

Bendik Goldstein, viola
Roi Ruottinen, cello
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor

Date: 2015
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573511


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Review

We have reached the sixth and final instalment in this fascinating series from Turku. It’s given over to just one work, namely Sibelius’s extensive score for Poul Knudsen’s dance pantomime Scaramouche. The composer signed a formal contract for the commission with the publisher Wilhelm Hansen on Midsummer’s Day 1913 – by which time problems had already started to surface. Not only was Sibelius dismayed by the scenario’s uncomfortable similarity to Arthur Schnitzler’s Veil of Pierrette (for which Dohnányi had provided incidental music in 1907), the sheer scale of the undertaking – well over an hour of uninterrupted music – was seriously fraying his nerves. Nevertheless, by the end of 1913 the score was complete, though it was to be a further nine years before the pantomime was successfully staged in Copenhagen.

Shrewdly scored for a small orchestra (including a piano), this elusive yet obstinately haunting 71-minute canvas is by no means devoid of beguiling grace, poetic imagination and intrigue, not least some frequent stylistic – and even thematic – points of contact with, among other offerings, the hugely underrated second set of Scènes historiques, The Oceanides and (perhaps most strikingly) the radiant Allegro moderato at the heart of the Seventh Symphony (ideas for which were evidently already forming in Sibelius’s mind). Leif Segerstam masterminds a characteristically unhurried, atmospheric display and proves especially adept at teasing out every drop of sinister unease and harmonic daring from the music of the duetting solo viola and solo cello associated with the hunchback Scaramouche. What’s more, his polished band is with him every step of the way. Excellent sound and truthful balance, too.

What an absorbing journey of discovery this series has proved to be; congratulations to everyone involved!

-- Andrew AchenbachGramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday  ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 9
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sibelius-scaramouche-mw0002889151
http://www.amazon.com/Sibelius-Scaramouche-Turku-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B015OPM8JQ
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.573511&languageid=EN

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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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