www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 3, February 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  All Previous Articles
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.


Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957): 
Lemminkäinen, four legends from the Kalevala, Op. 22; Night ride and sunrise, op. 55. Performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste
(Finlandia Records 3984-27890-2)
 
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was Finland's national composer. He was influenced by late romantic as well as by 20th century classical music. Finland's national epic, the Kalevala, is a creation myth and about the battles between the peoples of Kalevala and Pohjola. Jukka-Pekka Saraste is a leading Finnish conductor who offers us his interpretation of Sibelius' four legends from the Kalevala, known as the Lemminkäinen Suite, composed in 1896. 
 

Get it from Amazon.de
Born in 1956 in Heinola, Finland, Jukka-Pekka Saraste studied piano and violin at the Lahti Conservatory. His teachers encouraged him from the age of 12 on to pursue a conducting career. In 1978 he joined the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra as a violinist while continuing his conducting studies. He won the first prize in the Scandinavian Conducting Competition in 1981 and had his prefessional conducting debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 23. Saraste was invited to a North American tour in 1982 and to China in 1985. He is a co-founder of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, and Saraste helped establish Finland's exponents of contemporary music. Saraste was the principal conductor of the Edinburgh-based Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1987–1991). Today he primarily conducts two orchestras: the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1987 and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 1994.
 
Founded in 1922 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra adopted their current name in 1927. Among its conductors were Walter Süsskind, Seiji Ozawa, Andrew Davis and Gunther Herbig. Together with Jukka-Pekka Saraste, the orchestra has recorded Mussorgksy's Pictures at an Exhibition, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 4 and Bartók's Dance Suite.
 
In the summer of 1894, Jean Sibelius worked on an opera project and therefore attended performances of some of Richard Wagner's operas in Bayreuth and Munich. This experience completely crushed his aspirations as an opera composer and these never recovered. He abandoned opera and studied instead the symphonic poems of Liszt. Sibelius found in them a genre more suitable for himself. In 1896 he transformed the ruins of the opera project into Lemminkäinen, four legends from the Kalevala. The premiere of the Lemminkäinen Suite in Helsinki in April 1896 was enthusiastically received by the public. The leading critic Karl Flodin both criticized and commended it. Sibelius revised his work. But at its second performance a year and a half later, Flodin described it as "pathological" and complained that it made him "depressed, unhappy, raw and apathetic." Sibelius withdrew two movements of the Suite from public circulation. They were not performed again until the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Kalevala in 1935 and not printed until 1954.
 
The Lemminkäinen Suite "strikes a balance between pure programme music and a more abstract symphonic idiom. Each of its movements has a title associated with a specific episode from the Kalevala." In its first two movements, the work is influenced by Wagner. The Four Legends also have links with symbolism. Sibelius' music does not follow the narrative of the national epic in any detail but depicts its subject "on a more general emotional level."
 
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste has recorded a valuable version of the Lemminkäinen Suite that brings the composer's intended emotions to life. Lemminkäinen, the Kalevala's Don Juan, seduces maidens, kills - like Parsifal - a sacred swan, is consigned to the land of the dead and saved and brought back to life through the love of his mother. Besides the Lemminkäinen Suite, the CD also offers Saraste's version of Sibelius' Night ride and sunrise (1908), a mythological poem written by the composer himself.
______________

For more articles on music: Music 


www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 3, February 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  All Previous Articles
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.