Sibelius: Symphony No. 4, Pohjola's Daughter, Finlandia

Sibelius: Symphony No. 4, Pohjola's Daughter, Finlandia

by Leif Segerstam
     
 

What a wonderful country Finland must be! According to The New York Times, composer Jean Sibelius is the most well-known and well-loved Finn who ever lived. In Finland, he is a national figure: the heroic composer who helped win the country not only independence but international recognition. In Finland, Sibelius' likeness appears on the currency and, outside Finland,… See more details below

Overview

What a wonderful country Finland must be! According to The New York Times, composer Jean Sibelius is the most well-known and well-loved Finn who ever lived. In Finland, he is a national figure: the heroic composer who helped win the country not only independence but international recognition. In Finland, Sibelius' likeness appears on the currency and, outside Finland, he is recognized as the strong and soulful voice of the Finnish people. The question is, what is he singing about? Like Moses or Lincoln, true believers disagree about the essential nature of Sibelius' "Fourth Symphony." Is it optimistic or pessimistic, heroic or tragic, luminous or fuliginous? Among other Finnish performances, there is Berglund's austere "Fourth," Saraste's brash "Fourth," Vänskä's bold "Fourth," and Segerstam's grim "Fourth." But, grim as Segerstam's interpretation was, the playing of the Danish Radio Symphony in 1990, while honest and strong-hearted, was just a bit too sweet-toned for the "Fourth." In this 2005 recording with the Helsinki Philharmonic, Segerstam has an orchestra willing to go with him and dare the rapturous heights and frozen depths of Sibelius' "Fourth." The strings scrap and soar, the winds whisper and shriek, the brass calls and howls, the tympani is thunder and lightening. With the Helsinki, Segerstam's interpretation has grown grimmer, past pessimistic, more than tragic, darker than fuliginous, and all the way to nihilistic. Preceded by the heroic symphonic poem "Pohjola's Daughter" and followed by the choral-orchestral version of "Finlandia," Segerstam and the Helsinki's "Fourth" argue not just for Sibelius' significance as a nationalist composer, but his importance as a musical philosopher who, reasoning through severe harmonies and rigorous counterpoint, comes ineluctably to the cold, lightless night at the end of eternity. Ondine's 20th anniversary sound is translucent.

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Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
Leif Segerstam's Sibelius symphony cycle for Ondine concludes with this meticulously observant, keenly pondered reading of the Fourth. The Finnish maestro on the whole adopts more flowing speeds than on his earlier Chandos recording and, as before, there are plenty of imaginative touches.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
Those who can handle these 40 ultra-chilly minutes will hear one of the great performances captured on disc this year.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/24/2005
Label:
Ondine
UPC:
0761195104026
catalogNumber:
1040

Tracks

  1. Pohjola's Daughter (Pohjolan tytär), symphonic fantasy for orchestra, Op. 49  - Jean Sibelius  - Leif Segerstam  -  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  - Reijo Kiilunen  - Cheri Tamminen
  2. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63  - Jean Sibelius  - Leif Segerstam  -  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  - Reijo Kiilunen  - Cheri Tamminen
  3. Finlandia, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 26  - Jean Sibelius  - Tapani Länsiö  - Leif Segerstam  -  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  - Reijo Kiilunen  - Cheri Tamminen  -  Polytech Choir

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