Seriously Sibelius

Vänskä goes beyond the mood music with a sequence of Sibelius rarities

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Jean Sibelius

Genre:

Orchestral

Label: BIS

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

Stereo
DDD

Catalogue Number: BIS-CD1485

Seriously Sibelius

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Autrefois Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
Osmo Vänskä
Valse chevaleresque Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
Osmo Vänskä
(6) Humoresques Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jaakko Kuusisto
Osmo Vänskä
Jean Sibelius Composer
(2) Pieces Osmo Vänskä
Jean Sibelius Composer
Marko Ylönen
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
In memoriam Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
Osmo Vänskä
Presto for strings Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
Osmo Vänskä
Legends, 'Lemminkäinen Suite' Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
Osmo Vänskä
Valse lyrique Osmo Vänskä
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Composer
“Seriously Sibelius” it says on the front cover - but don't let that hoodwink you into thinking that this is some kind of mood-led compilation drawn from Vänskä's mammoth Sibelius survey. In fact, this latest volume (whose contents emanate from four sessions spanning nearly four and a half years) yields some fascinating finds.

Its centrepiece is a reconstruction (by Colin Davis - now there's a name with a Sibelius pedigree! - at the University of North Texas) of Lemminkäinen in Tuonela as it sounded at the April 1896 Helsinki premiere. When Sibelius reworked the score in 1939, he excised at least 108 bars, including an impressive 32-bar introduction and a hefty chunk of the ghostly A minor central episode.

Annotator Andrew Barnett tells us that the Op 77 Two Serious Melodies, for violin and orchestra, were first heard in March 1916 in Sibelius's arrangement for cello. Soloist Marko Ylönen is a rapt proponent of this headily lovely diptych, while the Lahti SO's leader Jaakko Kuusisto is a model of sensitive agility in the first version (from 1917) of the enchanting Humoresque No 1 in D minor.

The Three Pieces contain a fetching 18th-century pastiche, “Autrefois”, which incorporates a setting for soprano and contralto of a poem by Hjalmar Procopé. Bookending the programme are the original and revised versions (from 1909 and 1910 respectively) of the funeral march In memoriam, a stark yet noble (and at times intriguingly Mahlerian) processional to remind us that the uncompromising Fourth Symphony was not far off.

Vänskä and his bright-eyed Lahti band are on irreproachable form, and the BIS production crews have come up trumps once again with some resplendently natural sonics. A strong recommendation.

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