One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

REFERENCE RECORDINGS

Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review



Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases


Anderson Choral music


colourful and intriguing


Artyomov
Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble


one of Berlioz greatest works


Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances


An attractive Debussy package


immaculate Baiba Skride


eloquent Cello Concerto


tension-filled work


well crafted and intense


Laangaard
another entertaining volume


reeking of cordite


Pappano with a strong cast


imaginatively constructed quartets


the air from another planet


vibrantly sung


NOT a budget performance


very attractive and interesting


finesse and stylistic assurance


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Armas JÄRNEFELT (1869-1958)
Song of the Scarlet Flower; full orchestral score for the silent film (1919) [99:34]
Gävle Symphony Orchestra/Jaakko Kuusisto
rec. 2018, Gävle Concert Hall, Sweden
ONDINE ODE1328-2D [2 CDs: 99:34]

Song of the Scarlet Flower was Sweden’s biggest grossing silent film. First screened in 1919 it was also the first Nordic film with a tailor-made, full-length score and in its first screenings the orchestra was conducted by the composer of that score, Armas Järnefelt, now fifty years old and at the height of his public fame. Finnish-born, he was the conductor at Stockholm’s Royal Opera and his best composition years were behind him – his best-known works date from the two-decade period around 1890-1910. But as a distinguished and vastly experienced operatic conductor he was well placed to take on a film score and as a Finn he was perhaps thought temperamentally suited to the source material, which was a Finnish novel.

He suffered the fate of film composers of most stripes, building up his score bit by bit, being obliged to cut it, refashion it and forced to conform to the film’s tempo rather than setting his own. But he laced the score with motifs and ensured that the mood of the various scenes was enhanced by supportive music, familiar enough strategies, of course, but by no means quite so simple in 1919. His approach to ‘source music’ – that is, music that the characters in the film actually ‘hear’, usually folk dances - is now a familiar stratagem for film composers. Järnefelt wrote for a theatre orchestra, not full symphony orchestra, ensuring plenty of folk fiddle music, dances, hymnal moments and lashings of generally Late-Romantic moods, predominantly of the frei aber einsam kind: lonesome scenes.

The complex web of circumstances that have enabled the score to be heard in full here are detailed in the booklet essay. The score was rediscovered in the 1980s but frustratingly it’s not possible to synchronize it with the film, as the score is longer than what survives of the film; elimination of repeats and editing is necessary to match them together. Fortunately for a recording, authentic orchestration prevails, rather than an inauthentic re-orchestration that has done the rounds in recent showings of the film.

Given the long ‘chapters’, which follow the book, which span everything from nine to 17-minutes, I would advise listening to each chapter as a kind of mini tone poem and rely on the booklet synopsis to guide your listening. That, at least, is what I did. That way you will enjoy the winsome folkloric winds, the jovial festive elements and delightful dances borne up on rich orchestration. There is the solo violin’s romantic-melancholic solo over tremolandi in the second chapter, the song of the oboe, strong, lean themes and stormy writing – a melancholy chorale – with added piano. With his gift for strong thematic writing as well as limpid floral bouquets of sound, Järnefelt’s music makes a consistently pleasing impression. Brassy, skirling moments are present too – there’s also a ‘shooting the rapids’ scene of real excitement – as well as languorous romance, coquettish waltzes, but darker death-laden paragraphs. Everything you’d want, in other words, from a Nordic score of the time, or any time.

It’s beautifully performed here, the score having been restored by Jani Kyllönen and conductor Jaako Kuusisto and first performed in March 2017 at the Oulu Music Festival. Maybe it’s a candidate for transfer to Blu-ray/DVD? Certainly, this extensive 100-minute score powerfully whets the appetite for a showing.

Jonathan Woolf

 




Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger