There has been a critical divide over the voice of Finnish tenor Hannu Jurmu. Does he have a good, powerful voice or does he often shout with a strained tone? Honestly, maybe it's a little bit of both. But in my opinion, this type of voice works very well for this unique collection of some of Sibelius's little-known songs.
Like volume one in this same series, volume two treats the listener to an assorted bag of Sibelian rarities that are so often overshadowed by his large scale orchestral works.
Familiar to just about anyone will be the FINLANDIA HYMN, and most Sibelius fans will immediately recognize other Sibelius songs such as the MARCH OF THE ATHENIANS, the JAGER BATTALION MARCH and the SONG OF MY HEART. There are even a few world-premiere pieces like MUMMON SYNTYMAPAIVANA and TULE TULE KULTANI.
So, back to Mr. Jurmu. How does he fare? In my humble estimation, he fares quite well. I will agree that he has a tendancy towards shouting and unevenness of tone but this actually works with Sibelius. Within his imperfection there is a real earth-toned ruggedness that compliments the similarly textured compositions. It is the wild, passionate voice of nature; it is thrilling, romantic and heartfelt as opposed to polished, perfect and calculated.
Accomanying Mr. Jurmu on the piano is Jouni Somero. While the piano indeed plays "second fiddle" to the voice in these works, his playing is full-blooded, youthful and passionate without being over-bearing.
All in all, this is an exciting recording that actually benefits from what would normally be considered imperfections. Easily recommended.