Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS Midprice

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
CDl [75'37]
1 Andante Festivo [4.33] Helsingin Juniorijouset/Csaba and Geza Szilvay rec. 2002
2. Finlandia, Op. 26 [8.16] Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri/Okko Kamu rec. 1988
3 Valse triste, Op. 44/3 [5.15] Norjan radio-orkesteri/Ari Rasilainen rec. 1995.
4 Serenade no 1, Op. 69a [7.11] Jaakko Kuusisto, viulu; Kuopion kaupunginorkesteri/Atso Almila rec. 1999
5 Mazurka, Op. 81/1 [2.19] Kaija Saarikettu, viulu and Raija Kerppo, piano rec. 1993
6 Romance, Op. 78/2 [2.51] Kaija Saarikettu, viulu and Raija Kerppo, piano rec. 1993
7 Berceuse [Kehtolaulu], Op. 4015 [1.55] Kuopion kaupunginorkesteri/Atso Almila [sov. Curt Goldman] rec. 1999
8 Etude, Op. 76/2 [1.16] Izumi Tateno, piano rec. 1992
The Flowers, Op. 85: 9 No. 1 Bellis [1.27]; 10 No. 2 Oeillet [2.02]; 11 No. 3 Iris [3.00]; 12 No. 4 Aquileja [1.57]; 13 No. 5 Campanula [2.04]; Marita Viitasalo, piano Rec. 1993
14 Wedding march [1911] [3.55] Kuopion kaupunginorkesteri/Atso Almila rec.1999
15 The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22/2 [9.01] Toronton Sinfoniaorkesteri/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 2000
16 Sydämeni laulu, Op. 18/6 [2.07] Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat [YL]/Matti Hyökki Sanat: Aleksis Kivi; rec. 2003
17 Finlandia-hymn [1940] [2.08] Ylioppilaskunnan.Laulajat [YL]/Matti Hyökki Sanat: V.A. Koskenniemi; rec. 2003
18 Symphony No. 2 Op. 43 - IV Finale: Allegro molto [13.01] Euroopan kamariorkesteri [Chamber Orchestra of Europe]/Paavo Berglund rec. 1998
CD2 [64'37]
1 Karelia-suite, Op.11. - Alla marcia Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri/Okko Kamu rec. 1988
2 Symphony No. 1., Op.39 I Andante ma non troppo - Allegro energico Radion sinfoniaorkesteri/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 1995
3 Romanssi, Op. 42 [4.34] Keski-Pohjanmaan kamariorkesteri rec. 1996
4 Kurkikohtaus, Op. 44/2 [5.04] Finlandia Sinfonietta/Pekka Helas rec 1986
5 Rondino, Op. 81/2 [2.06] Arto Noras, cello and Tapani Valsta, rec. 1977
6 Elegia, Op. 27/1 [3.57] [sov. Georg Schneeyoigt] Erkki Rautio, cello and Izumi Tateno, rec. 1992
Puu-sarja, Op. 75: 7 No. 1. Kun pihlaja kukkii [1.54]; 8 No.2 Yksinäinen honka [2.45]; 9 No. 3 Haapa [2.44]; 10 No. 4 Koivu [1.44]; 11. No. 5 Kuusi [3.32] Eero Heinonen, piano Rec. 2000
12 Impromptu [1893] [6.28] Keski-Pohjanmaan kamariorkesteri/Juha Kangas 1996
13 Musette, Op. 27/2 [2.09] Tapiola Sinfonietta/Seppo Hovi rec. 1996
14 Symphony No. 1, Op. 39 - IV Finale: Andante - Allegro molto [11.35] Euroopan kamariorkesteri (Chamber Orchestra of Europe)/Paavo Berglund rec.1998
rec. 1977-2003 Stereo DDD/ADD

WARNER FINLANDIA 0927 49912 2 [75.37+64.37]

This set is called ‘Jean Sibelius - Finlandia … simply the best and most beautiful by the Finnish master’.

I hope that it will do well for Warners and Finlandia. Its intent is unequivocally commercial - after all Warners are a business. Perhaps its target market is the general listener who has heard some Sibelius, probably Karelia, Finlandia or Valse Triste and without having to confront those forbidding symphonies would like to hear the gentler pastel sketches and the highlights of bigger pieces. If so this is just the ticket. While it has two movements from Symphony No. 1 and one from No. 2, for the most part the tracks are light orchestral, salon chamber pieces and duos

The first CD opens with an excellent starry-stringed version of the usually rather stolid Andante Festivo - the best version I have heard. A lower key Finlandia follows without the gripping bark of Barbirolli, Collins or Stein. The Valse Triste is fastidiously romantic. Then comes an intimately close Mazurka and Romance and a scintillating Etude from a pianist who has made Scandinavian music and especially Finnish music his avocation, the wonderful Izumi Tateno (who has recorded much of the Palmgren piano solo music as well as his Second Piano Concerto The River). The Flowers suite is Macdowell-like. The 1911 Wedding March from The Language Of Birds is not at all march-like - a fine piece though. After a reliable Swan of Tuonela comes the suave and haltingly smooth Sydämeni laulu sung by the YL choir who follow it with the Finlandia Hymn.

I confess that auditioning this disc represented the first time I have heard any part of Berglund’s symphony cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. It is extremely impressive going by tr.18 CD1. Berglund is aided by a recording that places you very close or even just hovering over the orchestra. Every detail registers and the savagely blasting yet totally undistorted and pinpoint focused trumpets at the start of the finale are neither softened nor distanced. Listen to them at 6.23 (tr.18 CD1). I really liked this. If the rest of the Second Symphony recording is as good then I can see why people are so enthusiastic about the latest Berglund series. As for the ‘Chamber Orchestra’ they must have been materially augmented because there is no lack of weighty declamation here. I wish we could have had more from Berglund because Saraste’s first movement of the First Symphony opening the second CD is far less effective, lacking tension. This is thrown into sharper relief by Finlandia’s decision to end the collection with the finale of the First Symphony but for this they revert to Berglund/COE. Here this music is just as vividly rendered as the Second Symphony with many details registering with a clarity I have not previously encountered. Listen to the raw-rolling horns at 06.02 and the little accompanimental flute-chatter figures at 06.14 heard as never before.

The second CD starts with the Karelia - alla marcia movement at first as whisper quiet as I have ever heard. It is otherwise its usual smile-wreathed self in the hands of Okko Kamu and the Helsinki Phil. This is not the same recording as the one he made with the helsinki Radio Symphony for DG in the early 1970s. The Romance is all low key charm, warm … suave though. Magic returns for that wonderfully snow-warm piece Scene with Cranes. It is delightful to see it included here. The Rondino and Elegia are text-book salon material; no better and no worse than similar studies by Frank Bridge or any of hundreds of others. Much the same can be said for the piano solo group The Trees.

The programme planners have followed a similar pattern for each disc. A warmly cheering orchestral opening gives way to some orchestral drama. Then the music gradually releases tension with lighter orchestral pieces then chamber duos followed by piano solos back to steadily more intense orchestral pieces and ending with the finale of a symphony. Blessedly Berglund’s recordings are used for these final statements.

The liner notes are good and so are the photographs of Sibelius some of which I don’t recall seeing before. The two CDs come in a single width case.

My one real criticism of the set is the failure to fill it to capacity. There were plenty more short pieces they could have added from the Finlandia vaults yet the second CD is short of the first by ten minutes or more … room for several of the Humoresques or even the piano solo Kyllikki.

There is no home here for the classical Third Symphony, the gaudy fantasy of Pohjola’s Daughter still less the sphinx-like stare of the Fourth Symphony or Luonnotar.

Recommendable for the cautious soul who has no qualms about hearing detached parts of symphonies and who wishes a wide sampling of the more overtly romantic Sibelius. With the caveat this is a classy collection with recordings to match.

Rob Barnett


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.