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Sibelius: Works For Violin & Orchestra / Kuusisto, Et Al


Release Date: 08/22/2006 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1074   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Pekka Kuusisto
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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SuperAudio CD:  $17.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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


Everyone agrees that the Six Humoresques are miniature masterpieces, but they are still very seldom played, and just as seldom recorded. Along with the two equally fine serenades, they would make perfect encore pieces after Sibelius' Violin Concerto. Pekka Kuusisto made a terrific recording of that work for Ondine, and it's great to see him back in the remaining music for violin and orchestra (not quite all of it: the Two Serious Melodies Op. 77 are missing). The performances are uniformly superb, from the improvisational opening of the first humoresque to the truly funny No. 5, with its witty cuckoo
Read more calls and strutting main theme. Kuusisto delivers some sensationally pure and clean harmonics in this latter piece, and his phrasing is irresistibly amusing. He's also marvelous in Serenade No. 2, with its wide ranging contrasts of tempo and mood.

The Suite Op. 117 for violin and strings was Sibelius' last completed orchestral work. He never published it, and the titles of its three short movements, in English, suggest that it was written for the British/American market. It's very charming and typically well-made, and it's good to have an alternative to the BIS recording where it appears in tandem with lots of other miscellaneous stuff. I'm also delighted to welcome a new recording of the neglected but also marvelous Swanwhite Suite: wonderful music, particularly the second movement ("The Harp"), with its thematic relationship to the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony, and the marvelous piece called "Listen, the Robin Sings"--as poetic a piece as Sibelius ever wrote.

Kuusisto claims he isn't a conductor and that here he simply played along with the first violin section, but whoever was in charge of the Tapiola Sinfonietta did one hell of a job. The way Kuusisto and the ensemble breathe together in the Humoresques, allowing real improvisatory freedom with no loss whatsoever of rhythmic coherence, is pretty amazing. The Swanwhite Suite also has great delicacy and finesse (listen to their breezy way with Swanwhite and the Prince). At this level of accomplishment, who needs a conductor? The engineering, whether in stereo or multichannel formats, is just as splendid as the performances. The music may not be Sibelius' most popular, but it's great stuff, and these players don't let you forget that fact for as much as a second. Terrific!

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Humoresques (2) for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 87 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Pekka Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Finland 
2.
Humoresques (4) for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 89 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Pekka Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917-1918; Finland 
3.
Serenades (2) for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 69 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Pekka Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1913; Finland 
4.
Suite for Violin and Strings, Op. 117 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Pekka Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1929; Finland 
5.
Swanwhite, Op. 54 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Pekka Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapiola Sinfonietta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1908; Finland 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 AND HERE WE HAVE THE LIGHTER SIDE... September 22, 2014 By Zita Carno (Tampa, FL) See All My Reviews "...of Jean Sibelius. I was just listening to the Six Humoresques, both Op.87 and Op. 89, and I couldn't help chuckling at the numerous references---not only the Violin Concerto, but also Pohjola's daughter, a little dig at the beginning of Wieniawski's famous Legend in G minor, some musical hopscotch in several places---he was having a good time. Not to mention the ostinato strings we hear in a couple of places in the last movement of the Second Symphony---and a heehaw along the line. Great fun, and I look forward to hearing more on the disc I received. Despite his problems he had a sense of humor and was not afraid to express it...I just heard the second of the Serenades on my Classical Masterpieces channel, a different performer from the ones I have but very nice just the same. Also---as I think I mentioned, I've been tracking some things I've been hearing, and the other night I heard Nightride and Sunrise---and I noticed one motive that turns up in several places. It occurs several times in the fourth of the Lemminkainen legends---and then, in an extended form, in Nightride, in a similar section, in a similar situation. In the first, Lemminkainen is on his way home. In the second, that same motive, in extended form, it's the Nightride---on its way out of the darkness and into the light. Variation on a theme---and it's all Sibelius, all one. I get a tremendous kick out of such explorations, and I love it. As I said, I'm one happy Sibelian camper!" Report Abuse
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