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Sibelius Edition Vol 9 - Chamber Music II


Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1924/6   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Taneli TurunenJaakko KuusistoLaura VikmanTorleif Thedéen,   ... 
Conductor:  Hermann BäumerJaakko Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass PartoutLahti Brass Ensemble
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Click here to view all 13 volumes of The Sibelius Edition


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SIBELIUS String Duos and Trios (complete). 1 Music for Cello and Piano (complete). 2 Music for Solo Cello (complete). 3 Music for Brass Read more Ensemble (complete). 4 Music for Kantele (complete). 5 Piano Quintet in g. 6 Nights of Jealousy: Melodrama. 7 Rondo in d for Viola and Piano. 8 The Lizard: Incidental music 9 Hermann Bäumer, cond; 4 Brass Partout; 4 Jaakko Kuusisto (vn); 1,6,7,9 Laura Vikman (vn); 1,6,9 Jyrki Lasonpalo (vn); 9 Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (va); 1,6,9 Nobuko Imai (va); 8 Taneli Turunen (vc); 1,9 Torleif Thedéen (vc); 2,3 Joel Laakso (vc); 6,7 Eero Munter (db); 9 Folke Gräsbeck (pn); 2,6,7 Roland Pöntinen (pn); 8 Suvi Lehtonen-Gräsbeck (kantele); 5 Lasse Pöysti (nar); 7 Monica Groop (mez) 7 BIS 1924 (5 CDs: 291:08 Text and Translation)


Chamber music made up the greatest portion of Sibelius’s output from his student years in the 1880s through the early 1890s, when his first major works for orchestra appeared. In BIS’s Sibelius Edition, Volumes 2 (Chamber Music I), 6 (Violin and Piano), and now the present set, Volume 9 (Chamber Music II), are all devoted largely to early works, the great majority of which first became available when the Sibelius family donated a large collection of his manuscripts to the Helsinki University Library in 1982. In addition, a number of early piano works appear in Volume 4. This, of course, has helped make the Sibelius Edition a voyage of discovery; we are able to eavesdrop, as it were, as Sibelius learns to be Sibelius.


Volume 2 offered the complete string quartets, piano trios, and piano quartets, each in chronological order; Volume 9, essentially, gives us everything else. As a result, the set necessarily incorporates a greater variety of instrumental combinations; in the headnote I have organized the compositions into five genres, closely following project advisor Andrew Barnett’s booklet notes. In addition, I have listed five individual items that are generically unique. Listing all the pieces here is neither practical nor helpful: Many are brief and fragmentary, some untitled, and almost all are unfamiliar. In any event, all the titles are available in the entry for the set on ArkivMusic. One problem here is that the chronological presentation of works is comprehensive, rather than organized by genre as in Volume 2; this results in, for example, the juxtaposition on disc 4 of the Preludium for brass ensemble, a duo for violin and viola, and the Nights of Jealousy melodrama, all from 1891–93. I found it best not to listen to each disc straight through; whether or not you do, Barnett’s notes are indispensable.


Most of the music (about three and a half of the five discs) is early Sibelius, as described above. The works for two or three string instruments are largely brief individual movements Sibelius wrote for himself (still a budding concert violinist at that time) or friends; they include the 45-second Water Drops for violin and cello, believed to be his earliest surviving work, and Castles in the Air for violin duet, the earliest work (1881) for which a manuscript exists. Pieces from the late 1880s, such as Serenata and Menuetto and Allegro, both for two violins and cello, are attractive and, as we would expect, well written for the instruments; the Trio of the Menuetto in particular hints at Sibelius’s later language. The first large-scale work is the Suite in A Major for string trio (1889), for which Sibelius himself maintained a great fondness. In what can only be regarded as an isolated “deaf spot,” Barnett actually finds this one of the weaker compositions; by contrast, I find the work quite striking, and can hear strong intimations of the mature composer’s characteristic sound in the harmonies and figurations of the opening movement. The Trio in G Minor from 1893–94, the last of the major “youth” compositions in the set, is equally striking, but unfortunately only the first movement is complete; the second and third are presented in fragmentary form.


The works for cello, both with piano and unaccompanied, were almost all written for Sibelius’s brother, Christian, who was evidently a fairly accomplished cellist. There are nine or so minor pieces for cello and piano, which originally appeared on BIS CD 817. Malinconia , op. 20, is one of only two original pieces in this set to bear an opus number. Written in 1900, supposedly in the space of three hours, it is rather improvisatory; a serious work, it becomes quite impassioned near the end. There is also a large-scale, 17-minute Fantasia (1889) for which the piano part is lost; Torleif Thedéen’s rendering of just the cello part is impressive, but it’s difficult to make much of this torso. The other major cello work is a 13-minute untitled theme-and-variations from 1887. The set further includes Sibelius’s alternate cello versions of the Two Serious Melodies , op. 77, and the Four Pieces, op. 78, both originally for violin; despite fine playing from Thedéen, I prefer the violin original in all cases.


Sibelius left a single piece for viola and piano, the 1893 Rondo; this performance by Nobuko Imai and Roland Pöntinen is taken from a recital disc, BIS 829 (1997).


The works for brass were all written for the specifically Finnish torviseitsikko , an ensemble consisting of seven brass instruments (cornets, althorn, tenor horn, euphonium, and tuba) and percussion. Sibelius provided six pieces for this combination, of which Tiera , an 1899 composition based on a character from the Kalevala , is the best known; the 1891 Preludium is also distinctive. The 1889 Allegro, written as a contest entry, is unusual for Sibelius in that (as per the contest rules) it is based on Finnish folk songs. All of this music is enjoyable, if not very consequential, and the German group Brass Partout is uniformly terrific. These recordings previously appeared on BIS 1054.


The kantele was a Finnish plucked string instrument, which Sibelius’s sister-in-law played; he wrote the 1896–98 Moderato and Dolcissimo for her, and the 1899 Lullaby for a friend. The instrument, as Barnett observes, has a bell-like sound; any of these pieces would surely make a good “drop the laser.”


I reviewed the original issue of the 1890 Piano Quintet, the most large-scaled work in this set, in Fanfare 31:3, calling it “a serious and ambitious piece, albeit one that is inevitably derivative in places.” The melodrama from Nights of Jealousy appeared on the same original CD, BIS 1412; its unique combination of voices and instruments, as I said in my original review, creates some striking effects.


Last, in 1909 Sibelius provided two pieces for a symbolist play, Ödlan (“The Lizard”), by his friend Mikael Lybeck; these were not published until 1994, and bear the misleading opus number 8. The second, and much longer, of the two pieces is designed as a background to dialogue; it is long on atmosphere but short on melodic interest. Barnett perceptively notes the foreshadowing of Tapiola’s storm episode in the writing for strings.


Performances and production values are first-rate, as ever with BIS; the five discs sell for the price of three. I think of this set as something of an interlude between the orchestral music of Volume 8 and the choral music promised for Volume 10; overall it is perhaps of less intrinsic musical interest, but for anyone who has found the early works in preceding volumes enjoyable or intriguing—they are almost all attractive and well wrought, if not yet fully characteristic—this will be yet another rewarding volume in this monumental edition.


FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

1.
Water Drops by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Taneli Turunen (Cello), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Finland 
2.
Castles in the Air, JS 65 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Laura Vikman (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1881 
3.
Andantino for Cello and Piano by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1884; Finland 
4.
Andante molto in F minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887 
5.
Serenata, JS 169 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Laura Vikman (Violin), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887 
6.
Menuetto and Allegro, JS 128 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Laura Vikman (Violin), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887 
7.
Tempo di valse in G minor, JS 193 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887 
8.
Duo in E minor, JS 68 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Taneli Turunen (Cello), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887 
9.
Theme and Variations for Cello and Piano in D minor, JS 196 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
10.
Lento for Violin and Piano in E flat minor, JS 76 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1888; Finland 
11.
Moderato for Cello solo in F major by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885-1889 
12.
Mazurka for Cello solo in G minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1889 
13.
Andante for Cello and Piano, JS 91 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881 
14.
Andantino for Cello and Piano in B minor, JS 92 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889 
15.
Andante molto for Cello and Piano in B minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889 
16.
Andante - Allegro for Piano Quintet, JS 31 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano),
Laura Vikman (Violin), Joel Laakso (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889 
17.
Canon for Violin and Cello in G minor, JS 50 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Taneli Turunen (Cello), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889 
18.
Andantino for String Trio in A major by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889 
19.
Suite for String Trio in A major by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Finland 
20.
Fantasia, JS 79 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889 
21.
Adagio for Cello and Piano in F sharp minor, JS 15 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889 
22.
Tempo di valse for Cello and Piano in F sharp minor, JS 194 "Lulu Waltz" by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889 
23.
Overture for Brass in F minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Thomas Keller (Tuba), Andreas Klein (Tenor Horn), Jochen Ubbelohde (French Horn),
Markus Finkler (Cornet), Axel Maucher (Baritone Horn)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass Partout
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1890; Finland 
24.
Allegro for Brass by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jan Schlichte (Triangle)
Conductor:  Hermann Bäumer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass Partout
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Finland 
25.
Andantino and Minuet for Brass, JS 45 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Thomas Keller (Tuba), Andreas Klein (Tenor Horn), Jochen Ubbelohde (French Horn),
Markus Finkler (Cornet), Axel Maucher (Baritone Horn)
Conductor:  Hermann Bäumer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass Partout
26.
Vivace for Piano Quintet by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Joel Laakso (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin),
Folke Gräsbeck (Piano), Laura Vikman (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890 
27.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in G minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Joel Laakso (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin),
Folke Gräsbeck (Piano), Laura Vikman (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Finland 
28.
Minuet for Violin and Cello in F major by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Taneli Turunen (Cello), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
29.
Preludium for Brass Ensemble by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jan Schlichte (Triangle)
Conductor:  Hermann Bäumer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass Partout
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Finland 
30.
Duo for Violin and Viola in C major by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1891; Finland 
31.
Nights of Jealousy: Melodram by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Lasse Pöysti (Voice), Monica Groop (Mezzo Soprano), Joel Laakso (Cello),
Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888 
32.
Trio for Strings in G minor, JS 210 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893-1894 
33.
Rondo for Viola and Piano by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Nobuko Imai (Viola), Roland Pöntinen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1893; Finland 
34.
Canon for String Trio in D minor by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895-1898 
35.
Moderato for Kantele by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Suvi Lehtonen-gräsbeck (Zither)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1898 
36.
Dolcissimo, JS 63 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Suvi Lehtonen-gräsbeck (Zither)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1898 
37.
Waltz for Violin and Kantele, JS 222 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Suvi Lehtonen-gräsbeck (Zither), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
38.
Tiera, JS 200 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Thomas Keller (Tuba), Andreas Klein (Tenor Horn), Jochen Ubbelohde (French Horn),
Markus Finkler (Cornet), Axel Maucher (Baritone Horn)
Conductor:  Hermann Bäumer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brass Partout
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
39.
March for Brass by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Markus Finkler (Cornet), Thomas Keller (Tuba), Andreas Klein (Tenor Horn),
Jochen Ubbelohde (French Horn), Axel Maucher (Baritone Horn)
Conductor:  Jaakko Kuusisto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Brass Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1899 
40.
Malinconia for Cello and Piano, Op. 20 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901; Finland 
41.
Odlan, Op. 8 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Eero Munter (Double Bass), Anna Kreetta Gribajcevic (Viola), Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin),
Laura Vikman (Violin), Taneli Turunen (Cello), Jyrki Lasonpalo (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909 
42.
Serious Melodies (2) for Cello and Piano, Op. 77 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
43.
Pieces (4) for Violin/Cello and Piano, Op. 78 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello), Folke Gräsbeck (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915-1919; Finland 

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