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Sibelius: Swanwhite - Complete Incidental Music / Segerstam

Sibelius / Eklundh / Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Release Date: 10/09/2015 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573341   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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A musical selection from this release is featured in the above clip.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

No, it’s not the title of new horror flick. Swanwhite and The Lizard remain two of Sibelius least known incidental scores, here played in their complete original versions. As is often the case with these works, the suite that Sibelius made from his Swanwhite music is far more satisfying then the original score. The augmented orchestration for the suite, especially the important part for harp, adds tremendously to the music’s appeal, especially in a piece where that instrument gets mentioned all over the place but had to be left out of the theatrical version for reasons of economy (the original used only thirteen instruments, but the strings are intelligently padded even here). Still, there are plenty of extended bits as initially conceived Read more and the music itself is really, really lovely.

Sibelius never made a suite out of The Lizard, and for good reason. It would have been nearly impossible. The score consists of two movements: a three-minute Adagio followed by a twenty-two minute Grave, both scored for strings. There’s very little actual music here: it’s all atmosphere and repetition of brief melodic patterns. It is, in short, background music, probably perfect for its intended use, and pretty good at home too if you need something moody that never forces you to pay attention. And as always with Sibelius’ string writing, Segerstam’s performance is gorgeous. It’s not often recalled that Segerstam was himself a violinist of considerable ability in his youth, and he pays a great deal of attention to the orchestral string sections in all of his recordings, to excellent effect.

A Lonely Ski Trail and The Countess’ Portrait are both poetic recitations for narrator and strings. I truly loathe spoken text over music, but Riho Eklundh has a very pleasant, mellow voice, and I find Swedish fun to listen to because it sounds like it ought to be in English but, obviously, it isn’t and you’re left wondering why what you are hearing makes no sense. For example, the opening line of A Lonely Ski Trail, “Ett ensamt skidspar” (with a little circle thing over the “a” in “skidspar”), sounds just like someone saying in English “And in some cheap sport.” It’s fun. So is this beautifully played and recorded ongoing series more generally.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Leif Segerstam directs all this material with unhurried authority, abundant perception and heaps of character. Likewise, his willing Turku colleagues are with him every step of the way. Admirable production values and useful notes, too. A job well done.

- Gramophone Magazine Read less

Works on This Recording

Swanwhite, incidental music for orchestra & organ, Op. 54 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1908 
Date of Recording: 02/05/2014 
Venue:  Turku Concert Hall, Turku, Finland 
Length: 26 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Odlan, Op. 8 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909 
Date of Recording: 09/10/2014 
Venue:  Turku Concert Hall, Turku, Finland 
Length: 25 Minutes 48 Secs. 
The Lonely Ski Trail (Ett ensemt skidspĺr), melodrama for speaker, harp & strings, JS 77b by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1948 
Date of Recording: 02/06/2014 
Venue:  Turku Concert Hall, Turku, Finland 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
The countess's portrait by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Finland 
Date of Recording: 01/24/2014 
Venue:  Turku Concert Hall, Turku, Finland 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Sibelius series maintains high standards December 4, 2015 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "This is the fifth installment of Leif Segerstam's traversal of Sibelius' orchestral music with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. I'm happy to say that the recording and performance standards remain as high for this volume as they have for the previous four releases. In terms of music, though, I think there's a slight decline. As beautiful as these works were, they didn't quite move me as much as the incidental music to "Jedermann," or Pelléas et Mélisande (comparisons to Sibelius' symphonies seem a little unfair). That's not to say there isn't much to like here -- there is. And even a lesser work by Sibelius is still a cut above the average in quality. The disc opens with the complete incidental music to "Swanwhite." This 1908 was written for August Strindberg's play based on one by Matterlink. While individual sections are quite nice (one would find its way into Sibelius' 5th Symphony), to my ears the suite never seems to jell. Much more interesting, I think, is the incidental music to "The Lizard," written a year later. The drama centers around dream visions, and Sibelius creates some engaging and dramatic sonic dreamscapes of his own. To my ears, some sections sounded quite similar to "Tapiola," and deliver the same emotional impact. Also included are two short dramatic works,"A Lonely Ski Trail" from 1948, and "The Countess' Portrait" from 1905. Both are finely crafted musical miniatures and fit quite well with the larger works on this album." Report Abuse
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