Author Topic: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.  (Read 13749 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2019, 09:00:31 AM »
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.

So I listened to the pair of discs coupling No.7 with Kullervo and a couple of shorter works including En Saga.  General impressions; great sound - the LSO brass in particular wonderfully firm and sonorous - so the climaxes to No.7 sound wonderful.  The end of Kullervo has a grandiose epic quality I like more on reacquaintance than I remember.  But I do still struggle with the steady tempi especially of the opening and 2nd movement "Kullervo's Youth".  In this version he sounds like a bit of a couch potato.  Likewise En Saga has none of the urgency and sheer life-force of my favourite version from Horst Stein and the Suisse Romande on Decca.  Goodness me that's a version to treasure.  Will listen to the rest of the set again now.  Quite often I find my tastes and preferences DO change over time so I'm interested to find in this case that they have not.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2020, 06:07:50 AM »
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:


I had forgotten about this one from Oramo, Jeffrey. I own it as well. I’ve been on a Kullervo kick lately listening to many of the recordings I own, but I doubt I’ll want to listen to them all.

Here are the ones I own:

Vänskä (Lahti)
Vänskä (Minnesota)
Berglund (Bournemouth)
Berglund (Helsinki)
C. Davis (LSO)
C. Davis (LSO Live)
Dausgaard
Lintu
Segerstam (Helsinki)
N. Järvi
P. Järvi
Spano
Salonen
Oramo
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2020, 04:13:23 AM »
I had forgotten about this one from Oramo, Jeffrey. I own it as well. I’ve been on a Kullervo kick lately listening to many of the recordings I own, but I doubt I’ll want to listen to them all.

Here are the ones I own:

Vänskä (Lahti)
Vänskä (Minnesota)
Berglund (Bournemouth)
Berglund (Helsinki)
C. Davis (LSO)
C. Davis (LSO Live)
Dausgaard
Lintu
Segerstam (Helsinki)
N. Järvi
P. Järvi
Spano
Salonen
Oramo
That's a very impressive list John! I am rather loyal to Beglund's Bournemouth account which was my first encounter with the work on LP.

PS I've just listened to the Colin Davis LSO version. It is very good. However, my favourite moment is the pounding ostinato section about 11 minutes into 'Kullervo and his Sister' and I think that Davis takes it much too fast, robbing it of some of its effect IMO. I think that both of Berglund's recordings (Bournemouth and Helsinki) are better here. Paradoxically Davis performs some sections of 'Kullervo's Death' slower than usual and I found this very effective.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 06:17:54 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 Mirror Image

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2020, 07:15:44 AM »
That's a very impressive list John! I am rather loyal to Beglund's Bournemouth account which was my first encounter with the work on LP.

PS I've just listened to the Colin Davis LSO version. It is very good. However, my favourite moment is the pounding ostinato section about 11 minutes into 'Kullervo and his Sister' and I think that Davis takes it much too fast, robbing it of some of its effect IMO. I think that both of Berglund's recordings (Bournemouth and Helsinki) are better here. Paradoxically Davis performs some sections of 'Kullervo's Death' slower than usual and I found this very effective.

Thanks, Jeffrey. I don’t rate Colin Davis very highly as a Sibelian, but I seem to recall I was much more impressed by his LSO Live cycle, but it’s a pity that the audio quality isn’t up to snuff here (but this is typical of LSO Live recordings as the Barbican Hall has such dry acoustics). I haven’t heard any of Davis’ LSO cycle on RCA in years, so I wonder if my opinion has changed at all? I know the Kullervo you listened to spans over two discs, which is rather unfortunate, but it shows the kind of lax tempi he used, which sometimes work in Sibelius’ music, but I usually prefer a bit swifter tempi, which usually the Finns are pretty good at maintaining. I have to say that the Dausgaard performance I listened to last night with the BBC SO was outstanding! I was telling another friend that there were certain passages that had a Dvořákian folk-like quality to them. If you haven’t heard the Dausgaard, then add it to your list, because I think you’ll be rather impressed with it. Maybe it’s not the ‘greatest’ Kullervo on record but there were many different elements that made this a unique performance and, ultimately, a viable alternative to one’s more well-loved performances like Berglund’s Bournemouth recording for example. I’ll definitely be spinning this again soon.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 07:34:58 AM by Mirror Image »
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2020, 08:41:23 AM »
Thanks, Jeffrey. I don’t rate Colin Davis very highly as a Sibelian, but I seem to recall I was much more impressed by his LSO Live cycle, but it’s a pity that the audio quality isn’t up to snuff here (but this is typical of LSO Live recordings as the Barbican Hall has such dry acoustics). I haven’t heard any of Davis’ LSO cycle on RCA in years, so I wonder if my opinion has changed at all? I know the Kullervo you listened to spans over two discs, which is rather unfortunate, but it shows the kind of lax tempi he used, which sometimes work in Sibelius’ music, but I usually prefer a bit swifter tempi, which usually the Finns are pretty good at maintaining. I have to say that the Dausgaard performance I listened to last night with the BBC SO was outstanding! I was telling another friend that there were certain passages that had a Dvořákian folk-like quality to them. If you haven’t heard the Dausgaard, then add it to your list, because I think you’ll be rather impressed with it. Maybe it’s not the ‘greatest’ Kullervo on record but there were many different elements that made this a unique performance and, ultimately, a viable alternative to one’s more well-loved performances like Berglund’s Bournemouth recording for example. I’ll definitely be spinning this again soon.


Right! Thanks John - the Hyperion Kullervo will go on to my birthday list. I'll probably ask my daughter to get it for me (a bit of unnecessary contextual information here in the style of the much lamented cilgwyn - his mysterious disappearance still puzzles me - what was that all about?). Anyway the Hyperion Kullervo has been at the back of mine now it is at the front of my mind.
 ;D
"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 Mirror Image

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2020, 09:36:42 AM »
Right! Thanks John - the Hyperion Kullervo will go on to my birthday list. I'll probably ask my daughter to get it for me (a bit of unnecessary contextual information here in the style of the much lamented cilgwyn - his mysterious disappearance still puzzles me - what was that all about?). Anyway the Hyperion Kullervo has been at the back of mine now it is at the front of my mind.
 ;D

Excellent, Jeffrey. I think you’ll enjoy the performance. Yes, cilgwyn’s departure was rather baffling for sure. Perhaps there was something that happened to him or was there something that was said to him in particular? We’ll never truly know or so it seems. :(
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2020, 10:28:46 PM »
Excellent, Jeffrey. I think you’ll enjoy the performance. Yes, cilgwyn’s departure was rather baffling for sure. Perhaps there was something that happened to him or was there something that was said to him in particular? We’ll never truly know or so it seems. :(
Thanks John.
"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 Mirror Image

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Re: Sibelius: Kullervo Symphony - favourite recording.
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2020, 12:57:32 PM »
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich