- Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 - Jean Sibelius - Leif Segerstam - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra - Reijo Kiilunen - Pekka Kuusisto - Timo Kuoppala
- Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 - Jean Sibelius - Leif Segerstam - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra - Reijo Kiilunen - Timo Kuoppala
Sibelius: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 2by Pekka Kuusisto
Is this coupling of Sibelius' "Violin Concerto" and "Second Symphony" really "The Absolute Sibelius?" Absolutely. The "Violin Concerto" is absolutely the Finnish composer's most popular work after "Finlandia" and the "Second Symphony" his most popular work after the "Violin Concerto." Whether or not they are his best composed works -- the later symphonies and tone poems may take that honor -- the concerto is wildly passionate and extravagantly virtuosic and the symphony unrelentingly resolute and unendingly heroic. If these were the only works of the composer's in existence, Sibelius would absolutely have to be counted among the best fin de siècle composers. There have been many great recorded performances of both works, but this 1996 recording of the concerto and 2002 recording of the symphony are among the very best at the turn of the millennium. Pekka Kuusisto's concerto is almost unbearably ardent and Leif Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic's symphony nearly overwhelmingly valiant. At least while they are playing, it absolutely ranks among the greatest performances of all time. There have likewise been many superb recordings of both works, but with their combination of vivid clarity and palpable immediacy, these Ondine digital recordings are among the best ever made.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsPekka Kuusisto Primary Artist
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This is not one of those ghastly compilations of excerpts of things ("Zelenka for Zombies"), but a program of two major works, from the same decade of Sibelius' life. The violin concerto was soloist Pekka Kuusisto's first recording; the young prize-winner takes longer than Heifetz or Shaham, but he never seems to be dawdling. More than 100 years after its first performance, the Second Symphony remains one of the composer's most popular pieces, and Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic bring out all the drama of this theatrical music. The recordings are about a dozen years old, but the sound is clean and detailed. While this may not truly be the "absolute" Sibelius of the title--how could any one CD be?--it's an excellent choice as an initial listen to the work of the Finnish giant.