Jean Sibelius – Works for Violin and Orchestra – Pekka Kuusisto, Tapiola Sinfonietta (2006/2015)
DSF Stereo DSD64, 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 01:04:16 minutes | 2,54 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Booklet, Front Cover | © 2xHD/Ondine Oy, Helsinki
Recorded: January 2006, Tapiola Hall, Espoo, Finland
For lovers of Sibelius’s famous Violin Concerto, this album offers an ideal opportunity to discover his less-performed works for violin and orchestra, played by celebrated Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Known as a cutting edge musician, Kuusisto is acclaimed for his tone, technique, infectious enthusiasm and his imaginative interpretations, all of which are on display here. The Tapiola Sinfonietta, one of the top professional orchestras in the Nordic countries, is famous for its fine performances of classical, contemporary and less familiar chamber orchestra repertoire.
Pekka Kuusisto and composer Jean Sibelius seem to be an ideal match. After his highly successful debut recording, playing the Sibelius concerto, Kuusisto returns here as soloist and conductor of the Tapiola Sinfonietta for another strong showing with some of Sibelius’ lesser-known works for violin and orchestra.
This album was mastered using our 2xHD proprietary system. In order to achieve the most accurate reproduction of the original recording we tailor our process specifically for each project, using a selection from our pool of state-of-the-art audiophile components and connectors. The process begins with a transfer to analog from the original DSD master, using cutting edge D/A converters. The analog signal is then sent through a hi-end tube pre-amplifier before being recorded directly in DXD using the dCS905 A/D and the dCS Vivaldi Clock. All connections used in the process are made of OCC silver cable.
Everyone agrees that the Six Humoresques are miniature masterpieces, but they are still very seldom played, and just as seldom recorded. Along with the two equally fine serenades, they would make perfect encore pieces after Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. Pekka Kuusisto made a terrific recording of that work for Ondine, and it’s great to see him back in the remaining music for violin and orchestra (not quite all of it: the Two Serious Melodies Op. 77 are missing). The performances are uniformly superb, from the improvisational opening of the first humoresque to the truly funny No. 5, with its witty cuckoo calls and strutting main theme. Kuusisto delivers some sensationally pure and clean harmonics in this latter piece, and his phrasing is irresistibly amusing. He’s also marvelous in Serenade No. 2, with its wide ranging contrasts of tempo and mood.
The Suite Op. 117 for violin and strings was Sibelius’ last completed orchestral work. He never published it, and the titles of its three short movements, in English, suggest that it was written for the British/American market. It’s very charming and typically well-made, and it’s good to have an alternative to the BIS recording where it appears in tandem with lots of other miscellaneous stuff. I’m also delighted to welcome a new recording of the neglected but also marvelous Swanwhite Suite: wonderful music, particularly the second movement (“The Harp”), with its thematic relationship to the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony, and the marvelous piece called “Listen, the Robin Sings”-as poetic a piece as Sibelius ever wrote.
Kuusisto claims he isn’t a conductor and that here he simply played along with the first violin section, but whoever was in charge of the Tapiola Sinfonietta did one hell of a job. The way Kuusisto and the ensemble breathe together in the Humoresques, allowing real improvisatory freedom with no loss whatsoever of rhythmic coherence, is pretty amazing. The Swanwhite Suite also has great delicacy and finesse (listen to their breezy way with Swanwhite and the Prince). At this level of accomplishment, who needs a conductor? The engineering, whether in stereo or multichannel formats, is just as splendid as the performances. The music may not be Sibelius’ most popular, but it’s great stuff, and these players don’t let you forget that fact for as much as a second. Terrific! -David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Six Humoresques for violin and orchestra
1. Humoresque No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 87/1 03:40
2. Humoresque No. 2 in D Major, Op. 87/2 02:09
3. Humoresque No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 89/1 04:30
4. Humoresque No. 4 in G Minor, Op. 89/2 03:57
5. Humoresque No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 89/3 03:26
6. Humoresque No. 6 in G Minor, Op. 89/4 03:08
Two Serenades for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 69
7. No. 1. Serenade in D Major 05:15
8. No. 2. Serenade in G Minor 06:07
Suite for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 117
9. I. Country Scenery 02:10
10. II. Evening in Spring 02:51
11. III. In the Summer 01:48
Swanwhite, Suite for Orchestra, Op. 54
12. I. The Peacock 03:33
13. II. The Harp 03:14
14. III. The Maiden with the Roses 02:59
15. IV. Listen, the Robin Sings 03:47
16. V. The Prince Alone 03:41
17. VI. Swanwhite and the Prince 03:19
18. VII. Song of Praise 02:36
Pekka Kuusisto, violin (#1-11) and conductor