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Kortekangas: Migrations - Sibelius: Kullervo / Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra


Release Date: 02/03/2017 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 9048  
Composer:  Jean SibeliusOlli Kortekangas
Performer:  Tommi HakalaLilli Paasikivi
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota OrchestraYL Male Voice Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
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SuperAudio CD:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

REVIEW:

Osmo Vänskä recorded a superb Kullervo Symphony in Lahti–indeed, that was and remains a reference version. It featured a particularly brave, because very slow but also remarkably powerful, account of the second movement, Kullervo’s Youth. Unlike Vänskä’s other Sibelius symphony remakes in Minnesota, which are replete with annoying little mannerisms and surprisingly dead passages, this performance is excellent. It’s also virtually identical, down to the second, to the conductor’s previous effort. There’s even an authentic Finnish chorus, the YL Male Voice Choir, imported from Helsinki for the occasion. The group has performed and recorded Kullervo something like a thousand times already, so we know
Read more exactly what to expect.

Why, then, bother with this new release at all? Well, Kullervo fits on a single disc, as it did previously, but for this series of performances the Minnesota Orchestra commissioned Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas to write a “companion” to Kullervo–in this case a 25-minute piece called Migrations. It is written for the same forces as the Sibelius, setting poems inspired by Finnish immigration to Minnesota (of which there was a lot, in case you didn’t know). The English poems, by Sheila Packa, are both sensitive and moving, the use of language often lovely. Kortegangas sets four of them, separated by three orchestral interludes. You also get as an encore one of the various versions of Finlandia with (male) choir, if you care.

The problem with this release, as I see it, is twofold. First, Kortekangas shows far too much respect to Packa. These are longish poems, the settings themselves relatively brief. This means that there is a lot of talking going on, however accessible and attractive the music (and it is both); but as with so many choral pieces with lots of text to get through, the words are practically unintelligible, and so you can’t really enjoy the poetry at all as it is sung. Second, I doubt that anyone except hardcore patrons of the Minnesota Orchestra–and friends and relatives of Kortekangas–wants this set principally for Migrations. It requires a (very short) second disc. Logically, therefore, the package should have been offered at two discs for the price of one to make it at least competitive with Vänskä’s first recording of Kullervo.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Kullervo, Op. 7 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Tommi Hakala (Baritone), Lilli Paasikivi (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra,  YL Male Voice Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
2.
Migrations by Olli Kortekangas
Performer:  Lilli Paasikivi (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra,  YL Male Voice Choir
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2014; Finland 
3.
Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra,  YL Male Voice Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Music that we breathe February 9, 2017 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "This is a heart-warming release all around. It's great to see the Minnesota Orchestra back in business and as good as they were before their recent labour difficulties. Osmo Vanska has his players delivering what must be pretty darn close to the perfect Sibelius sound I imagine is in the head of every Finnish conductor, helped along by the special appearance of the superb YL Male Voice Choir from Helsinki. We also have soloists whose voices are well-suited for this work: mezzo Lilli Paasikivi and baritone Tommi Hakala. This is authenticity in action. It's heart-warming as well to listen to this stirring music in the middle of a long cold winter; even in normally sunny and mild Victoria BC we've been hit hard by cold and snow, snow, and more snow. This calls for the heroes of the sagas to bring out their horns and do their mighty deeds, as seen in the painting on the front cover of the disc by Axel Gallén (his Kullervo Goes to War from 1901), and for the listeners to thrill to the exciting tale told by Sibelius. The composer provides memorable melodies, martial rhythms and plenty of drama, which Vanska calibrates carefully to avoid sentimentality or bombast. There's an electricity in the air throughout in this recording, made during three public concerts during February 2016. It comes to a head with a spectacular recording of everyone's favourite national hymn, Finlandia. In between, though, is another work, by the Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas, which takes advantage of the forces assembled for the Sibelius. Migrations is based on poetry by the Minnesotan (of Finnish descent) Sheila Packa, which takes as its theme something that's relevant to the history of Finland and Minnesota, and to the sad stories of todays migrants. "in a cascade of notes / which is not endless / but aching and sweet like iridescent feathers / of wings that rise and fall / in the circle of migration / in each flight / music that we breathe" Poems by Sheila Packa, from the books ‘Cloud Birds’ and ‘Echo & Lightning’ published by Wildwood River Press. This BIS release is something special; I expect it'll end up in my 2017 Top 10 list for sure." Report Abuse
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