This new release from BR-Klassik brings together the most well-known works of Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. Included in this disc are Sibelius Symphony No. 2 D Major op. 43, and Finlandia op. 26- Karelia Suite op. 11. The recordings on this album were made during autumn of 2015 in Munich, by The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Conducting the orchestra is Mariss Jansons, who is well-known for his interpretation of Nordic music.
Norwegian-born violinist Vilde Frang makes her solo recording debut with Prokofiev's first Violin Concerto and Sibelius' Violin Concerto, plus three of the Finnish composer's Humoresques for violin and piano. With her sweet tone, fluent technique, and soulful interpretations, Frang's performances can stand comparison to many of the great recorded performances of the past. She digs in deep in Sibelius' outer movements and dispatches their manifold difficulties with apparent ease.
The exceptional collaboration and friendship between the late Einojuhani Rautavaara and the internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Gerland Finley culminates in this unique album of orchestral songs by Sibelius, on which the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Edward Gardner. The album offers orchestrations, by Sibelius and others, of songs which Sibelius originally wrote for voice and piano, and includes the premiere recording of ‘In the Stream of Life,’ seven songs orchestrated by Rautavaara for his friend. Throughout, the poetry perfectly reflects the instinctively felt relation between Finnish nature and Sibelius’s music.
The years spanned by this seven-disc Warner Classics collection coincide with the peak years of Jean Sibelius' popularity. At that time, he was widely regarded in Western countries as the greatest living composer, though he had essentially stopped producing major works after the mid-1920s, when he wrote the Symphony No. 7 in C major, the incidental music to The Tempest, and Tapiola.
The Italian word malinconia was very commonly used in the nineteenth century as a title for melancholy pieces. Yet the idea of malinconia covered a myriad of romantic notions, so that simply translating it as "melancholy" does not do it justice. It subsumes many other emotional states as well - all kinds of dejection, gloom, unknown sadness, desperation, depression and even frustration. Each language has evolved its own terms, and interpretations of the word itself also differ from region to region. Malinconia in sunny Italy or Spain is quite different from melancholy in Norway and in Finland, where the winters are harsh and long. The Nordic variant is expressed here in various musical examples; words alone are anyway inadequate.
Vol. 2 in BIS' complete Sibelius Edition is given over the Finnish master's chamber music for strings and for strings and piano. Fifty years earlier, this release would've included only the "Voces intimae" string quartet. But BIS' 2007 release includes all four quartets and all four piano trios, plus 35 other works or substantial fragments lasting between 13 seconds to 32 minutes. One thing is instantly clear: Sibelius scholarship has made enormous strides since the mid-twentieth century.
Finland's Jean Sibelius is perhaps the most important composer associated with nationalism in music and one of the most influential in the development of the symphony and symphonic poem. Sibelius was born in southern Finland, the second of three children. His physician father left the family bankrupt, owing to his financial extravagance, a trait that, along with heavy drinking, he would pass on to Jean. Jean showed talent on the violin and at age nine composed his first work for it, Rain Drops. In 1885 Sibelius entered the University of Helsinki to study law, but after only a year found himself drawn back to music. He took up composition studies with Martin Wegelius and violin with Mitrofan Wasiliev, then Hermann Csillag…
Beethoven reputedly wasn't Beecham's favorite composer, but you wouldn't know it from this performance; it's exceedingly well conceived, highly energetic, and has that unique Beecham sparkle to it. The fillers also are delightful. All recorded in Ascona, Switzerland in 1957.