Author Topic: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.  (Read 13752 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« on: August 08, 2019, 01:14:45 AM »
I didn't realise the there is a 'Forum Statistics' section. I see that I don't feature on any list except the one for starting new threads, where I am in top position  0:). XB-70 Valkyrie is in second position. This is my 300th thread. Actually my top placing may be due to the fact that I have, unintentionally, started the same thread several times  ::).

Anyway, back to business. I see that there are now a plethora of recordings of the Kullervo Symphony, a work that I like very much. Do you have a particular top recommendation? I've been tempted by the new Hyperion recording but it is a bit pricey. It was well reviewed. I have a particular soft spot for Berglund's Bournemouth SO recording, which may have been the first one ever. I had both of Berglund's versions on LP.

Here's the LP. I see that it was the first recording, so a good place to start:
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 01:20:23 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Biffo

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 01:55:33 AM »
Although I have several versions it is not a work I listen to very often. I prefer the orchestral movements but generally find the the whole work too long even though it has some fine music in it.
I have -

Berglund - Helsinki PO
Jarvi, P - Royal Stockholm PO
Salonen - Los Angeles PO
Davis - LSO

I can't honestly say which is my favourite, I haven't listened to them often enough. All but the Salonen came with albums/boxes containing. other works in case you are wondering why I have so many versions of a work I am equivocal about.


Edit: I don't have Berglund/Bournemouth after all, just two copies of Berglund/Helsinki. Before checking I was confident I had Vanska/Lahti but it seems I don't.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 02:29:48 AM by Biffo »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 03:44:19 AM »
Although I have several versions it is not a work I listen to very often. I prefer the orchestral movements but generally find the the whole work too long even though it has some fine music in it.
I have -

Berglund - Helsinki PO
Jarvi, P - Royal Stockholm PO
Salonen - Los Angeles PO
Davis - LSO

I can't honestly say which is my favourite, I haven't listened to them often enough. All but the Salonen came with albums/boxes containing. other works in case you are wondering why I have so many versions of a work I am equivocal about.


Edit: I don't have Berglund/Bournemouth after all, just two copies of Berglund/Helsinki. Before checking I was confident I had Vanska/Lahti but it seems I don't.
Thanks for the reply anyway Biffo. I have the Berglund Helsinki as well; it features in an excellent recent boxed set in a mini version of its original LP cover. On balance, good as it is, I find the Bournemouth version more gripping:
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2019, 06:52:34 AM »
Here's the LP. I see that it was the first recording, so a good place to start:

So it took until 1970 to record a work first performed in 1892 (and then suppressed during the composer's lifetime).  Perhaps not so surprising, given that apparently it took a collaboration between the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki University Male Choir to get the project off the ground!
(I only have the Helsinki PO version, and do find myself wondering if the choir actually travelled for a holiday weekend in sunny Bournemouth on the Costa Geriatrica - or were they dubbed - possible, but unlikely at that date, I think.)
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 07:01:55 AM by aukhawk »

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2019, 10:57:17 AM »
I love Kullervo. I have eleven versions. My favorite is the one with the broadest first movement: Davis RCA. You could say he Brucknerizes the work and that is just fine by me. At the other tempo extreme Järvi père is pretty impressive.  But my runner-up is probably Segerstam.

Davis (RCA)                            16:18   15:58   26:01   10:27   11:53                         
Davis (LSO Live)                     14:22   14:04   23:22   10:18    9:46
Segerstam (Ondine)              14:16   16:32    24:38    9:46   12:40 
Järvi, Paavo                           14:00   15:56    24:19    9:38   14:32
Rasilainen                              13:59   14:43    24:52  10:01     9:15
Berglund (Bournemouth)       13:55   14:02    24:55    8:52   10:00
Vänskä                                  12:57   19:23    25:38  10:13   12:32 
Berglund (Helsinki)                12:45   14:08    25:06  10:03    9:46
Saraste                                 12:45   14:18    23:42    9:24    9:48
Salonen                                12:43   15:02    22:55    9:38    9:53
Järvi, Neeme                         11:50   13:50   23:11  10:16    9:39


Sarge
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he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2019, 10:03:25 PM »
I love Kullervo. I have eleven versions. My favorite is the one with the broadest first movement: Davis RCA. You could say he Brucknerizes the work and that is just fine by me. At the other tempo extreme Järvi père is pretty impressive.  But my runner-up is probably Segerstam.

Davis (RCA)                            16:18   15:58   26:01   10:27   11:53                         
Davis (LSO Live)                     14:22   14:04   23:22   10:18    9:46
Segerstam (Ondine)              14:16   16:32    24:38    9:46   12:40 
Järvi, Paavo                           14:00   15:56    24:19    9:38   14:32
Rasilainen                              13:59   14:43    24:52  10:01     9:15
Berglund (Bournemouth)       13:55   14:02    24:55    8:52   10:00
Vänskä                                  12:57   19:23    25:38  10:13   12:32 
Berglund (Helsinki)                12:45   14:08    25:06  10:03    9:46
Saraste                                 12:45   14:18    23:42    9:24    9:48
Salonen                                12:43   15:02    22:55    9:38    9:53
Järvi, Neeme                         11:50   13:50   23:11  10:16    9:39


Sarge
Thanks aukhawk and Sarge for those interesting statistics. Typically the Davis RCA is about the only one I do not have!
Still, I see that Amazon UK are selling a second hand set of the Davis RCA symphonies, including Kullervo for £5.00 - so that will be my next port of call. I'm glad Sarge that you think highly of the work as well. Generally I'm not a fan of Colin Davis but his RCA CD of the Sibelius tone poems is very good including an excellent Tapiola, which is, unfortunately, not included in the RCA boxed set of the symphonies:

PS I'm wrong - it does include Tapiola, so that is good news.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 10:34:28 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2019, 10:55:09 PM »
Various thoughts on this.......

I was very disappointed with the Davis/RCA/LSO remakes compared to the original Phillips/Boston cycle.  But of course the earlier cycle did not include Kullervo so not wholly relevant here. 

NO WAY was a choir dubbed in for Bournemouth - as if that would be possible in any technical/artistic way!!  That version is still one of my most favourite versions.... I love the sheer energy and sense of discovery of it.  This is a young man's music telling a young man's (hero's) story - it needs that sense of intemperance. (which is why I wouldn't respond to a 'broad' Davis reading I think)

Missing from those lists is the first version to really challenge Berglund/Bournemouth - the live/BBC Music Magazine version from Sakari Oramo and the BBC SO recorded at the Proms.  A quite stunning version.

A shame that great Sibelians such as Kamu/Ormandy/Stein/Sanderling/Rohzdestvensky/Maazel/Barbirolli/Gibson let alone HvK(!) never got to record the score.......

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2019, 11:04:46 PM »
Various thoughts on this.......

I was very disappointed with the Davis/RCA/LSO remakes compared to the original Phillips/Boston cycle.  But of course the earlier cycle did not include Kullervo so not wholly relevant here. 

NO WAY was a choir dubbed in for Bournemouth - as if that would be possible in any technical/artistic way!!  That version is still one of my most favourite versions.... I love the sheer energy and sense of discovery of it.  This is a young man's music telling a young man's (hero's) story - it needs that sense of intemperance. (which is why I wouldn't respond to a 'broad' Davis reading I think)

Missing from those lists is the first version to really challenge Berglund/Bournemouth - the live/BBC Music Magazine version from Sakari Oramo and the BBC SO recorded at the Proms.  A quite stunning version.

A shame that great Sibelians such as Kamu/Ormandy/Stein/Sanderling/Rohzdestvensky/Maazel/Barbirolli/Gibson let alone HvK(!) never got to record the score.......
Thanks for that RS. I have the Boston set and it will be interesting to compare them. Here is an interesting review of the RCA set which tends to very much support Sarge's view of the Kullervo Symphony:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Apr04/Sibelius_Davis.htm
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2019, 11:23:37 PM »
Thanks for that RS. I have the Boston set and it will be interesting to compare them. Here is an interesting review of the RCA set which tends to very much support Sarge's view of the Kullervo Symphony:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Apr04/Sibelius_Davis.htm

I'll have to revisit these recordings clearly!  They are stuck away in a bag in my attic - cursed by my lukewarm memory of the performances........  Another version I have but can remember almost nothing about is the Spano/Atlanta recording on Telarc.  Amazon US customers seems impressed by it - another disc to revisit!
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 11:30:14 PM by Roasted Swan »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2019, 12:53:28 AM »
I'll have to revisit these recordings clearly!  They are stuck away in a bag in my attic - cursed by my lukewarm memory of the performances........  Another version I have but can remember almost nothing about is the Spano/Atlanta recording on Telarc.  Amazon US customers seems impressed by it - another disc to revisit!

I have the Oramo BBC Music Magazine version of 'Kullervo', which you and others recommend, somewhere in the myriad piles of CDs in the house. The Spano version was enjoyable but nothing special as far as I recall.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2019, 04:40:56 AM »
Thanks for that RS. I have the Boston set and it will be interesting to compare them. Here is an interesting review of the RCA set which tends to very much support Sarge's view of the Kullervo Symphony:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Apr04/Sibelius_Davis.htm

Thanks for the link, Jeffrey. It's good to see a positive review of the set. Makes me inspired to give it another go. (Like the Swan, I have preferred Davis's Boston performances of the symphonies.)

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2019, 04:59:37 AM »
Thanks for the link, Jeffrey. It's good to see a positive review of the set. Makes me inspired to give it another go. (Like the Swan, I have preferred Davis's Boston performances of the symphonies.)

Sarge

My pleasure Sarge. I'm looking forward to receiving the RCA set, especially for 'Kullervo'. The advantage of those older RCA box sets, compared with the more recent ones, is that they contain detailed booklet notes with photos (at least the VW one did).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Ras

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2019, 04:45:31 AM »
I don't know this music by Sibelius (not a Sibelius fan - at least not yet) , but I noticed that Thomas Dausgaard just released his take on "Kullervo" on Hyperion (yes, Hyperion - I believe that must be Dausgaard's first recording on Hyperion?):

"Music is life and, like it, inextinguishable." - Carl Nielsen

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2019, 06:10:33 AM »
I don't know this music by Sibelius (not a Sibelius fan - at least not yet) , but I noticed that Thomas Dausgaard just released his take on "Kullervo" on Hyperion (yes, Hyperion - I believe that must be Dausgaard's first recording on Hyperion?):


Yes, it's rather tempting and I love the cover image. The CD was well reviewed in the Sepember issue of BBC Music Magazine.

Just listening to this. It is indeed excellent:
« Last Edit: August 10, 2019, 10:15:13 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2019, 12:23:06 PM »
I have to give it to the home team on this one, Spano/Atlanta Symphony. I haven't heard the famous Berglund/Bournemouth, though, and I love his cycle of the symphonies, so I reckon that may be the one to beat.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2019, 01:22:16 PM »
I have to give it to the home team on this one, Spano/Atlanta Symphony. I haven't heard the famous Berglund/Bournemouth, though, and I love his cycle of the symphonies, so I reckon that may be the one to beat.

One of the great Spano/Atlanta discs is this one



and this RVW is excellent too!  Go the home team!


Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2019, 02:41:52 PM »
^Spano will be conducting an all-Sibelius program one night in this upcoming season, I am looking forward to it. I think he has a pretty keen understanding of the music.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2019, 09:08:55 PM »
Ok, I'll have to give the Spano version another listen. I did enjoy his VW and Barber CDs as well.
Here's the Kullervo CD. Anyone know what his CD of Sibelius's symphonies 6 and 7 with Tapiola is like?

Here's a good review of Spano's 'Kullervo':
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/Feb07/Sibelius_Kullervo_CD80665.htm
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 09:14:00 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2019, 12:23:43 AM »
Yes I have got that Sibelius 6/7 - but (to my shame  :-[ ) I also have 31 other recordings of that favourite symphony on my hard disk - so it's difficult to stand out in such a competitive field!  I recall it is quite a plush sound - more Berlin than Lahti.  I am a very big fan of Spano's VW Sea Symphony though - my top choice there, against stiff competition.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2019, 02:52:53 AM »
Yes I have got that Sibelius 6/7 - but (to my shame  :-[ ) I also have 31 other recordings of that favourite symphony on my hard disk - so it's difficult to stand out in such a competitive field!  I recall it is quite a plush sound - more Berlin than Lahti.  I am a very big fan of Spano's VW Sea Symphony though - my top choice there, against stiff competition.
Thanks very much for that. I shouldn't feel bad about the '31 recordings' I probably have at least that number of Bruckner's 9th Symphony, Shoostakovich's 4th Symphony and Walton's First Symphony. Must look out for the Spano 'Sea Symphony', although it will take a lot to displace Haitink in my estimation.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).