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Sibelius: Lemminkainen Suite, Wood Nymph / Vanska

Release Date: 07/08/2014 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1745   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


Osmo Vänskä’s 1999 recording of the four Lemminkäinen legends was a rare disappointment, both interpretively and sonically. BIS knew it, and so the label has been stealthily replacing that edition with these newer recordings. The sad thing is that the older performances are the ones in the complete Sibelius Edition, and more’s the pity because BIS still has (and had) a superb alternative in Järvi’s primal reading, the first on the label. Hopefully BIS will find a way to add these (or those) to the complete edition as well, since it makes no sense to favor the second rate when better alternatives are
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These are tremendously assured performances–I would even go so far as to use the word “elegant”, especially in the opening Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of the Island, where fluid tempos, seamless phrasing, and exceptionally well-judged balances project the entire work’s quarter-hour as if in a single breath. The Lahti Symphony plays with the kind of proprietary zeal that we have come to expect in its Sibelius, and there’s none of that senseless monkeying around with the music that we find in Vänskä’s Minnesota Sibelius symphony recordings. Here everything flows naturally and inexorably.

The same sensitivity to texture and balance characterizes The Swan of Tuonela, with an excellent English horn solo deftly integrated into the ensemble. Lemminkäinen in Tuonela represents another highlight, with Vänskä shaping the strings’ endless tremolo figures into meaningful phrases having genuine melodic content. So often, at least in its outer sections, this piece comes off as a sort of scruffy blur, but this performance makes music without sacrificing a jot of the necessary forbidding atmosphere. Only Lemminkäinen’s Return fails to satisfy completely, at least in relation to the other movements. It’s certainly fleet and exciting, but not quite gritty enough as compared with the best of the competition, and it begins a bit too quickly to allow room to build up the necessary head of steam as it progresses.

The Wood-Nymph is not a new recording, but it always was an excellent performance, vibrantly recorded, and it remains so. This work was the great discovery of the BIS complete edition, and hearing it you will wonder where it’s been all these years. At slightly more than 21 minutes, it’s as substantial as the Seventh Symphony, and a wonderful example of early Sibelius–composed at exactly the same time as the Lemminkäinen Suite/Symphony, but left unrevised and unpublished at the composer’s death. All in all, this is a terrific disc. Kudos to BIS for taking the time, trouble, and expense to revisit this repertoire in order to get it right.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Wood nymph, Op. 15 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; Finland 
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893/1895; Finland 

Sound Samples

Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22: I. Lemminkainen and the Maidens of the Island
Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22: II. The Swan of Tuonela
Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22: III. Lemminkainen in Tuonela
Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22: IV. Lemminkainen's Return
The Wood Nymph, Op. 15*: The Wood Nymph, Op. 15

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Lemminkainen August 13, 2014 By Linda R. (Hastings, Victoria) See All My Reviews "My favourite Sibelius. This is not as good as Jarvi's recording on the same label. The Swan is beautiful so peaceful and calm. The swan was played at the end of Dad's funeral. He introduced me to Sibelius, an introduction I ignored for many years but grew to love his music. After having now been to Finland and indeed his home, I understand the music somewhat better. Finland is so different to Australia." Report Abuse
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