Performing with: Benjamin Appl (baritone), Helena Juntunen (soprano);
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra & Lund Male Chorus
Every unorthodox texture, ostinato and accompaniment makes its mark…It’s good to have a focused, youthful chorus, in the shape of men from Sweden’s Lund University, rather than the usual wall of sound…Kullervo may not have triumphed, but the Scots and their Danish chief conductor absolutely do here.
Not the least of its many virtues is the enthusiastic, scrupulously prepared and rhythmically spry contribution of the BBC Scottish SO…Plaudits, too, for Dausgaard’s purposeful, keen-eared direction, some shrewdly chosen tempos ensuring that Sibelius’s daringly ambitious scheme unfolds with impressive cumulative power…All told, a hearty welcome to this fresh-faced newcomer.
The young Sibelius rendered the epic tale of unintended incest, vengeance and death as an expansive, post-Brucknerian choral symphony with consummate brilliance. Dausgaard’s reading, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the soloists Juntunen and Appl, and the full-throated Lund Male Chorus, delivers dramatic excitement in spades
Dausgaard’s approach with the BBC Scottish Orchestra captures the audacity in the piece…[and] also emphasizes the sophistication that lies beneath the ostensible rawness…Appl’s delivery is a bit too heroic, since Kullervo is no hero but a very fractured personality…Dausgaard and the BBC SSO demonstrate what a remarkable work Kullervo can be.
While Kullervo represents just the confident first step in Sibelius’s symphonic odyssey, it is also a viscerally exciting experience on its own terms—little wonder the first performance in 1892 was such a triumph for the young composer. An unmissable acquisition for anyone who knows only the numbered symphonies.
Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7
1. Movement 1. Introduction. Allegro moderato
2. Movement 2. Kullervo’s youth. Kullervon nuoruus: Grave
3. Movement 3. Kullervo and his sister. Kullervo ja hänen sisarensa: Allegro vivace
4. Movement 4. Kullervo goes to war. Kullervon sotaanlähtö: Alla marcia – Vivace – Presto
5. Movement 5. Kullervo’s death. Kullervon