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Finlandia/Karelia & Lemminkain

Sibelius Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 12.33 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Finlandia, Op. 26
2. Karelia Suite Op.11: I Intermezzo
3. Karelia Suite Op.11: II Ballade
4. Karelia Suite Op.11: III Alla Marcia
5. Lemminkäinen Suite Op.22: Lemminkäinen And The Maidens Of Saari
6. Lemminkäinen Suite Op.22: Lemminkäinen In Tuonela
7. Lemminkäinen Suite Op.22: The Swan Of Tuonela
8. Lemminkäinen Suite Op.22: Lemminkäinen's Return

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Opening this concert is Sibelius' overture Finlandia, composed for a gala in Helsinki to support the right of free speech at a time when the nation was under Russian domination. The work became a symbol of Finland's struggle for independence, and virtually the country's unofficial national anthem. Instantly recognisable, it is the most famous Finish music ever composed. Apart from his seven symphonies, Sibelius' major legacy is the series of tone poems he was inspired to write by Finish history and legend. The Karelia Suite is his revision of music originally written for a sequence of tableaux portraying the history of Karelia. Drawing on folk influences, this is melodic, celebratory and most attractive music. The major work on the album, though, is the Lemminkäinen Suite. Lemminkäinen was described by Sibelius as "the Don Juan of Finnish mythology". Here the philanderer undergoes a series of adventures, including a bleak sojourn in the underworld, before the mystical melancholy of the most famous movement, "The Swan of Tuonela", and the heroism of " Lemminkäinen's Return". This is an intelligently compiled programme, superbly played and recorded. Petri Sakari and the Iceland SO have also recorded Sibelius' Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3, which are worthy of further exploration. --Gary S. Dalkin

Product Description

Finlandia, op. 42 - Karelia, op. 10 - Suite Lemminkaïnen, op. 22 / Orchestre Symphonique d'Islande, dir. Petri Sakari

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars raw power March 24 2003
Format:Audio CD
The early music of Sibelius possesses a raw emotional power that appeals to some more than others - but with a recording as fresh, spontaneous and exciting as this, I for one surrender!
The mythical landscapes of the Lemminkäinen Suite are magically evocative, with fine playing by the Icelanders - and while this is not the absolutely best Swan of Tuonela I have heard, it is still very fine. From the pale, nordic sun of the outer movements to the gloomy depths of Tuonela (land of the dead), this is a recording that totally draws you into a prehistoric world, with triumphs and horrors no less than todays'.
Not quite the same care and enthusiasm seems to have been invested in the Karelia-suite and Finlandia - but perhaps it is exactly the slight carelessness of the playing that makes you hear these over-played works almost anew.
With excellent sound, this is a sure winner.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Audio CD
This review refers to the Naxos CD recoding
by Petri Sakari and the Iceland Symphony
Orchestra, recorded in University Hall,
Reykjavik from 28th to 31st May and on
November, 1997.
This recording contains: Finlandia, Op. 26,
Karelia Suite, Op. 11 [Intermezzo; Ballade;
Alla marcia]; and the Lemminkainen Suite,
Op. 22 [Lemmikainen and the Maidens of Saari;
The Swan of Tuonela; Lemmikainen's Return].
On the first few listenings, I did not
particularly care for this version of
"Finlandia," but it has "grown on" me...or
I have grown with it. The whole recording
now seems to me to be top notch, and at this
price, a real bargain.
"The Swan of Tuonela" has always been a
highly esteemed piece for me, since high
school. I try to get as many different
versions of the piece by different orchestras
and conductors as I can. This version is
definitely top of the line. The playing of
the "Cor Anglais" in the piece by Dao
Kalbeinsson is incredible and inspirational.
All in all, this is a recording of Sibelius
not to be passed up.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius reaches Iceland April 22 2000
Format:Audio CD
The climate of Sibelius's music is not far removed from the Icelanders. The rich, dark and brooding colors of this music appeals to most northerners. With an island that has had a consistently low population since the beginning of its history, concerts by the Iceland Symphony have always been major events. The orchestra certainly plays with powerfully devoted dedication on the present recording. Petri Sakari studied in Finland at the Sibelius Academy under the reknowned pedagogue Jorma Panula. So, an understanding of his countryman's music is only natural. In this recording, Sakari brings out certain aspects of the Leminkainen Suite that many other recordings lack. Firstly, this is the only performance on record (to my knowledge) that restores the original order of the middle two movements. This may seem trivial, however, it should be noted that Sibelius had made the change of order later in his life (opposing Sakari's present order). Hearing it in this order may make it clear for some Sibelius enthusiasts, including myself, why the critic Karl Flodin panned the work's premiere in 1896 as "pathological" and "depressing". Sibelius's judgement should probably be taken more seriously, by allowing the famous "Swan of Tuonela" to soothe the listener after the intense mood of the opening movement. But either way, Sakari's choice makes one reminiscent, and in more ways than one. His interprtations of the Suite and the Karelia Suite are highly original, intensely passionate and wholly welcome in the army of recordings of these works now available to the public.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius reaches Iceland April 21 2000
By Michael S. Holmes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The climate of Sibelius's music is not far removed from the Icelanders. The rich, dark and brooding colors of this music appeals to most northerners. With an island that has had a consistently low population since the beginning of its history, concerts by the Iceland Symphony have always been major events. The orchestra certainly plays with powerfully devoted dedication on the present recording. Petri Sakari studied in Finland at the Sibelius Academy under the reknowned pedagogue Jorma Panula. So, an understanding of his countryman's music is only natural. In this recording, Sakari brings out certain aspects of the Leminkainen Suite that many other recordings lack. Firstly, this is the only performance on record (to my knowledge) that restores the original order of the middle two movements. This may seem trivial, however, it should be noted that Sibelius had made the change of order later in his life (opposing Sakari's present order). Hearing it in this order may make it clear for some Sibelius enthusiasts, including myself, why the critic Karl Flodin panned the work's premiere in 1896 as "pathological" and "depressing". Sibelius's judgement should probably be taken more seriously, by allowing the famous "Swan of Tuonela" to soothe the listener after the intense mood of the opening movement. But either way, Sakari's choice makes one reminiscent, and in more ways than one. His interprtations of the Suite and the Karelia Suite are highly original, intensely passionate and wholly welcome in the army of recordings of these works now available to the public.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars raw power March 24 2003
By ole skipper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The early music of Sibelius possesses a raw emotional power that appeals to some more than others - but with a recording as fresh, spontaneous and exciting as this, I for one surrender!
The mythical landscapes of the Lemminkäinen Suite are magically evocative, with fine playing by the Icelanders - and while this is not the absolutely best Swan of Tuonela I have heard, it is still very fine. From the pale, nordic sun of the outer movements to the gloomy depths of Tuonela (land of the dead), this is a recording that totally draws you into a prehistoric world, with triumphs and horrors no less than todays'.
Not quite the same care and enthusiasm seems to have been invested in the Karelia-suite and Finlandia - but perhaps it is exactly the slight carelessness of the playing that makes you hear these over-played works almost anew.
With excellent sound, this is a sure winner.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than Adequate Replacement for Schermerhorn's Version Feb. 15 2009
By Leslie Richford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957): Finlandia, Op. 26; Karelia Suite, Op. 11; Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22. Performed by Dao Kolbeinsson, cor anglais; Richard Tchaikovsky, cello; Iceland Symphony Orchestra, directed by Petri Sakari. Recorded 28th thru 31st May and 25th November, 1997. Released in 1999 as Naxos 8.554265 (LC 05537). Total playing time: 72'50".

The recordings of "Finlandia", of the "Karelia Suite" and of "The Swan of Tuonela" which can be heard here were made by Naxos as a replacement for the disk with the same works recorded by a Slovakian orchestra led by the late Kenneth Schermerhorn some ten years earlier. The new CD has the advantage of cleaner, more confident playing, a conductor who knows and understands the works thoroughly and engineering which, although by no means perfect, captures a good deal more of the fascinating details of Sibelius's scores than the earlier recording was able to. On the whole, after listening to the Iceland Symphony recording, it seemed that Sibelius's combinations of brass, percussion and woodwind were uppermost in Sakari's mind, with the strings taking a relatively minor role (despite some nice touches from the cello in the Lemminkäinen Suite). Generally, the music is not only dark and brooding, there are also plenty of episodes marked with excitement and tension, and personally I enjoyed not only the rough, raucous brass of "Finlandia" (and its beautiful, epic hymn, which has been so popular that it has even been set to the words of a Pentecostal chorus!), but also the rhythmic qualities of the outer movements of the Karelia and the more gentle descriptive passages in the Ballade as well as in "Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of Saari". I did not hear anything "careless" about the playing, although at one or two points I felt that things were not quite as ordered and transparent as perhaps they could have been - but those were minor quibbles on a performance that certainly has great class (Sakari and the Icelanders have also recorded for other labels and certainly know what they are doing!). But while listening on Sennheiser HD600 headphones, I was confronted by the impression that the engineers, while capturing the "whole panorama" quite nicely, should probably have brought certain instruments more to the forefront in certain passages. In particular, the percussion sounded compressed and, on occasion, more like someone moving furniture around than rolling tympani. But again, these are quibbles rather than real objections, and for its price this CD is a winner.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finland, interpreted in Iceland... top rate! ... Dec 8 2002
By "acominatus" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This review refers to the Naxos CD recoding
by Petri Sakari and the Iceland Symphony
Orchestra, recorded in University Hall,
Reykjavik from 28th to 31st May and on
November, 1997.
This recording contains: Finlandia, Op. 26,
Karelia Suite, Op. 11 [Intermezzo; Ballade;
Alla marcia]; and the Lemminkainen Suite,
Op. 22 [Lemmikainen and the Maidens of Saari;
The Swan of Tuonela; Lemmikainen's Return].
On the first few listenings, I did not
particularly care for this version of
"Finlandia," but it has "grown on" me...or
I have grown with it. The whole recording
now seems to me to be top notch, and at this
price, a real bargain.
"The Swan of Tuonela" has always been a
highly esteemed piece for me, since high
school. I try to get as many different
versions of the piece by different orchestras
and conductors as I can. This version is
definitely top of the line. The playing of
the "Cor Anglais" in the piece by Dao
Kalbeinsson is incredible and inspirational.
All in all, this is a recording of Sibelius
not to be passed up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good readings Sept. 18 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
At least it's fortunate, given the intended audience for Naxos issues like this, that we are given a far more than serviceable recording of these Sibelius masterpieces. In fact, this release is competitive even when compared to several full-price releases, and even if it cannot pip, say, Mikko Franck or Paavo Berglund to the post (mostly because their orchestras frankly sounds better, if only because they are - apparently - given more rehearsal time), no one will really go wrong with this issue.

What is most admirably about these readings is Sakari's sensitivity to the flow of the music, the various parts of the arguments and how they hang together. There's nothing abrupt nor any rough seams in these readings. That said, the first section of Finlandia is a tad to fast, even if the Big Tune is impressively poignant and effective. The Karelia suite is also finely shaped, even if the end result is - if I am to be harsh - perhaps a little anonymous. In the Lemminkäinen suite, Sakari uses the original order of the movements (with The Swan of Tuonela third). This is also the most impressive reading on the disc, full of spirit and tension.

The orchestral contributions are also at their best in Lemminkäinen - not too soft or polished, but in no way scrappy either, just full of color and power. In particular, there is some impressive brass playing here (and also on the rest of the disc). The sound quality is really good as well, and overall this is a very worthwhile release - perhaps not the best one around of this repertoire, but well worth its modest outlay.
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