Sibelius – Song of the Earth BIS BIS-CD-1365
Helena Juntunen (soprano), Juha Hostikka (baritone), Dominante Choir,
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vanska
This album consists of several assorted choral works by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) set against the rich soaring orchestral landscape one usually associates with the composer. The texts are taken from Finnish and Swedish tradition and historical events. The stirring choruses are almost operatic in places and draw vivid pictures of struggles that one can only accurately imagine if one knows either the folklore or the language. But the gist of these struggles is pretty clear in any language – it’s epic! Never having heard any of these works before I cannot judge how they compare to other recordings of the same. I suspect they would score very highly. The sound is clear and crisp, the voices are strident and passionate, the orchestration is dramatic and well-balanced. In fact I should say this record paints an excellent & accurate picture of the Nationalist fervour which was rife in Scandinavia in particular and across Europe in the late-nineteenth/early twentieth century and reflected by composers of so many nations throughout this turbulent period.