Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

 

Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
YL – The voice of Sibelius
Six Songs, Op. 18 for male choir a cappella [11:49] (1. Sortunut ääni (The Broken Voice) (1898) [1:20]; 2. Treve kuu (Hail, O Moon) (1901) [3:10]; 3. Venematka (The Boat Journey) (1893) [1:34]; 4. Saarella palaa (Fire on the Island) (1895) [1:23]; 5. Metsämiehen laulu (The Woodsman’s Song) (1899) [1:36]; 6. Sydämeni laulu (Song of my Heart) (1898) [2:12])
7. Rakastava (The Lover), JS 160b (1894 – version for tenor, male choir and string orchestra) [6:28]
8. Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapid-Rider’s Brides), Op. 33 (1897, arr. 1943 – version for male choir and orchestra) [8:36]
9. Tulen synty (The Origin of Fire), for baritone, male choir and orchestra, Op. 32 (1902 – original version) [11:20]
10. Vapautettu kuningatar (The Captive Queen), Op. 48 (1906, arr. 1910 – version for male choir and orchestra [9:21]
11. Hymn (Natus in curas) for male choir a cappella, Op. 21 (1896 – original version) [3:55]*
12. Kuutamolla (In the Moonlight), for male choir a cappella, JS 114 (1898) [1:53]
13. Isänmaalle (To the Fatherland), for male choir a cappella, JS 98b (1899 – original version) [1:47]*
14. Verjeni vierailla mailla (My Brothers Abroad), for male choir a cappella, JS 217 (1904) [3:13]
15. Har du mod? (Have You Courage?), for male choir and orchestra, Op. 31 No. 2 (1904 – first version) [1:38]
16. Laulu Lemminkäiselle (A Song for Lemminkäinen), for male choir and orchestra, Op. 31 No 1 (1896) [4:08]
17. Jääkärien marssi (March of the Finnish Jäger Battalion), Op. 91a (1917, orch. 1918 – version for male choir and orchestra) [2:23]
18. Till havs (To Sea) for male choir a cappella, Op. 84 No. 5 (1917 – draft version) [1:59]*
Two Songs, Op. 108 (1925) for male choir a cappella [6:19]
19. 1. Humoreski (Humoresque) [3:28]
20. 2. Ne pitkän matkan kulkijat (Wanderers on the Long Way) [2:44]
21. Finlandia-Hymni (Finlandia Hymn) for male choir a cappella, from Op. 26 (1899/1900, arr. 1940) [2:05]
Tom Nyman (tenor) (7); Tommi Hakala (baritone) (9)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä (7-10, 15-17)
YL Male Voice Choir/Matti Hyökki
rec. Nya Paviljongen, Kauniainen, Finland, April 2006 (1-6, 11-14, 19, 21), September 2006 (18, 20); Sibelius Hall, Lahti, Finland, January 2005 (7, 8), May 2005 (9, 10), January 2006 (15); Church of the Cross (Ristinkirkko), Lahti, Finland, January 2000 (16, 17). DDD
Texts and English translations enclosed.
* denotes World Premiere Recording
BIS BISCD1433 [79:46]
Experience Classicsonline

No choir in Finland or elsewhere has a longer tradition singing the music of Sibelius than YL – the Helsinki University-based male voice choir. It was founded in 1883. When Kullervo was premiered in 1892 singers from YL formed the backbone of the male choir. When, the following year, Sibelius started writing music for male choir a cappella his very first composition, Venematka, was written for YL’s tenth anniversary. The song was later published as No. 3 of the Six Songs Op. 18. The BIS booklet lists the Sibelius works that the choir premiered and it comprises more than half of those included here. These range from Venematka on 6 April 1893 to the official premiere with orchestra of Jääkärien marssi on 19 January 1918.
 
We tend to think of Sibelius as primarily a composer of orchestral music but his vocal production is large. In the solo songs as well as his music for choir there is essentially the same monumental harshness and barrenness as in his symphonic music – characteristics that largely mirror the nature of Finland in both connotations of the word: the geography as well as the disposition of its inhabitants.
 
For his solo songs Sibelius often chose Swedish poems but when composing for choir it seems that Finnish came more naturally. This may have something to do with the solo song being private and individual while choral music is collective and nationalistic. For much of his symphonic music he drew inspiration from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epos. Several of these choral pieces are also settings of texts from the same source or the poetic equivalent, the Kanteletar. Two of the Op. 18 songs are also settings of texts by Aleksis Kivi, the Finnish national writer who was the first professional writer to publish his works in Finnish. He is best known for the novel Seitsemän veljestä (1870, Seven Brothers) which has historical importance for being the first novel in the Finnish language.
 
As member of a male choir from the late 1960s until the early 1980s I also became familiar with Sibelius’s choral music. Sortunut ääni, the first in Op. 18, was often featured in our programmes. It is a powerful song, short, but within the span of little more than a minute it is an adventure for the singers as well as the audience. The Finnish language, so rich on vowels, is also grateful. In a way it sings itself. Coming back to the song  after almost thirty years I found that I still knew it – at least partly – and could join in but only fragments of the text remained in my memory. The words are from the Kanteletar, and so is Saarella palaa, which was the most impressive of the songs I didn’t already know. I have to admit that good though my old choir was, we were no match for YL. Swedish OD has claims to be one of the world’s best male choirs but YL are on the same level. There is a homogeneity in the sound that is stunning, no first tenors obtruding from the texture – a flaw even in good choirs. Dynamic shadings are also sensitively applied. This is due in no small degree to the control exercised by the eminent Matti Hyökki, who has been conductor of YL since 1980.
 
Of the remaining a cappella songs, Hymn, a setting of a Latin text by Fridolf Gustafsson, is achingly beautiful. This is one of three world premiere recordings on the disc. The other two are more ordinary. Isänmaalle is patriotic and will touch the heart-strings of nationalist Finns, being written just around the turn of the last century when there was growing opposition against the rule of Russia. Till havs is a powerful maritime canvas but it still feels pale in comparison with the setting for solo voice by Swedish composer Gustav Nordqvist (1886–1949), which was one of Jussi Björling’s show-pieces. The best known of these songs is Finlandia-Hymni, a setting of the hymn section from the orchestral composition. It still evokes strong feelings among Finns as well as Swedes with memories – direct or indirect – from WW2. Kuutamolla and Veljeni vierailla mailla are two evocative songs that I regret I haven’t heard before. They are both little gems which I will be proud to play to choristers I know.
 
Rakastava is known primarily as a work for string orchestra but that is a much later arrangement. It was written in 1894 for a competition organized by YL and is for male choir a cappella with tenor soloist. Sibelius also arranged it for mixed choir. The version heard here has an accompaniment with strings which Sibelius wrote to facilitate intonation problems. I believe YL could have managed it without the strings but in whatever shape it is performed it is among the most beautiful music Sibelius ever wrote. The tenor soloist Tom Nyman sings mellifluously.
 
The three long compositions for choir and full orchestra, Koskenlaskijan morsiamet, Tulen synty and Vapautettu kuningatar are strong and powerful, showing Sibelius’s dramatic vein. He may not have been disposed to write opera – his only essay in the field, Jungfrun i tornet (1896), is interesting but hardly a masterpiece. However he composed a lot of incidental music so he certainly had an interest in theatre and there is a kind of theatricality in these works, even though the epic quality is most notable. Tulen synty (The Origin of Fire), a setting of a text from Kalevala, is an especially strong composition with violent contrasts in dynamics and tempos and with great melodic appeal. Tommi Hakala delivers an impressive dramatic reading of the solo part with intensity in the Jorma Hynninen mould. Hakala, who was born in 1970, was winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competition in 2003.
 
Recording and documentation are, as always with a BIS issue, exemplary, though the print of the sung texts is too small. It should be mentioned that at least the works with orchestra have been issued before (BIS-CD-1525) but I haven’t been able to find the a cappella works in the catalogue. This is however in all respects an important issue. Even if you do not have a specific interest in choral music you should consider a purchase.
 
Göran Forsling
 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.