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Favorite KULLERVO recording?
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Tapkaara
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:14 pm    Post subject: Favorite KULLERVO recording? Reply with quote

Mine is Paavo Jarvi with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. Many complain that Kullervo's Death is taken too slowy, but I love it...so dramatically tense. I also enjoy the one with Spano/Atlanta, although the American chorus occasionally makes it obvious they are not Finnish with their pronunciation.

Anyone else?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've only heard two recordings: Berglund's and Davis'. I like Davis' quite a lot just now, but that's mainly because the sound is better (this is very unusual for me, by the way; I'm getting the Toscanini Beethoven cycle soon). It's a good introduction, in my opinion. Berglund's is excellent also, as I recall. I must listen to them more; I often prefer listening to, say, the symphonies and tone poems. Kullervo, like the first symphony, just doesn't resonate with me.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not such a fan of the Spano/Atlanta... also the soloists have some 'issues' with the Finnish, and Spano occasionally adapts (=messes about with) rhythms and shortens general pauses rather too much for my taste (try the last bars of the first movement, or the big long pause in the finale: compare for example with Vänskä, who is very precise at such points). Even the sound strikes me as a bit lacking in colour - don't know if it's the way they play it or the way it was recorded...

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you might guess, I am very fond of Kullervo, thank God he never burnt this score!
Berglunds premiere recording of the work in 1971 was of course a landmark in Sibelian discography [Bournmouth s.o]
The first time that I ever played this record is still etched in my mind, such was the emotional impact it made on me. Although described at the head of the score as a Tone Poem for soloists, chorus and orchestra, it is as much a Symphony as Mahlers
'Resurrection'.
I still have Berglunds original LP's and also his later account with Helsinki Phil. from 1985. Either versions are eminently recommendable.

Of the Cd's in my collection, three are by Finnish conductors : Leif Segerstam and Danish Nat. Radio s o, for me this is let down by a very sluggish last movement.
Saraste with Finnish Radio s o, this is a straightforward reading and enjoyable.
Ari Rasilainen and Staatphilharmonic Rheinland-Pfalz. I particuarly like the Introduction, this is highly dramatic with particuarly thrilling timpani. Great pity that the rest of the performance is not up to this.
My current favorite is Robert Spano with Atlanta s o. I think that the non Finnish chorus come out of it pretty well, as does baritone Nathan Gunn.
I have heard Vanska, but found the second movement 'Kullervo's Youth' astonishingly slow, I know that Sibelius marks this 'grave' but surely the young Kullervo was more lively than this!
Finally, I have a video of Sir Colin Davies with the LSO from the Barbican London, in I think 1995--great stuff.--kullervopete.

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arenan
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Segerstam / Isokoski / Hakala / HPO
Ondine, 2008
Very nice.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too have the new Segerstam recorind of Kullervo. Very good. My favorite is still Paavo Jarvi with the Royal Stockholm Phil., though.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone else heard the new Segerstam KULLERVO on Ondine? Any comments?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again I ask...has anyone heard the new-ish Kullervo on Ondine?

Critic David Huwitz loves it, saying it has the best singers on record.

I think it's a very solid performance, but not as great as Berglund and (Paavo) Järvi.

Anyone else?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not yet heard it. I have Segerstams earlier version on Chandos with Isokoski, Laukka and Danish Nat. Radio Choir and Orchestra. In this otherwise fine account, the final 'Kullervo's death' seems to drag, taking 13'-13'' as against Rasilainen's 9'-15 and Spano's 10'-17'' to name a couple.
Is Segerstam still as long drawn out in the Ondine version?
Its unusual for me to find things to slow in Sibelius, invariably tempi are too quick.--kp

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Segerstam's Helsinki recording takes 12 minutes and 41 seconds. So it's a little quicker than his first recording, but not the quickest on record by any account.

My favorite recording of Kullervo is with Paavo Jarvi and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. His "Kullervo's Death" takes nearly 15 minutes. Although Jarvi milks the finale for all it's worth with a remarkably slow tempo, it never sounds over done, not for one second. Neither does Segerstam on this recording.

The recorded sound is excellent, by the way, and you can hear great detail in the orchestra.

I have not heard the Kullervo with Rasilainen because I've heard mostly negative reviews on it. Is it a good recording?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This CPO SACD recording is sonically a front runner. Kullervo has a huge sound stage and the orchestral detail is superbly revealing.

What of the performance itself?

The introduction [13'-59] is superb. The timpani, so important in Sibelius is captured to better effect than any other that I have heard. The rest of the performance is not quite on a level with this great opening, but very enjoyable.

The KYL Chorus acquit themselves well, helped by the forward perspective of the recording. I was most taken by the excellent strings which revealed some fantastic moments. All in all this is a decent account, and Ari Rasilainen who was a one time concert master of the second violins in the Helsinki Philharmonic and has this music in his blood inparts much of it into the Rhineland-State Philharmonic. Yes it has had some poor reviews but sod the critics!--kp Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree with Kullervopete about the Rasilainen, which I have enjoyed greatly. There are certainly some new details revealed in this performance, and some genuinely interesting (and valid) interpretative decisions. It's a pity that some of the traditional pitfalls aren't avoided (chief among them shortening pauses and long chords, sometimes radically), and he uses the old score with misprints. Still, for me it is far more idiomatic, characterful and more appropriately sung than the Atlanta version.

The new Segerstam takes curate's-eggery to a new height:
* moments (many) of absolute genius (much of the third movement);
* moments of surprising traditionalism (the BAD BAD habit [going back to Paavo Berglund] of putting in some extra accents, messing with note values); and
* moments of total, utter lunacy. What in the name of...er... Sibelius does he think he's doing in the final bars? A sudden DOUBLING of tempo five bars before the end (on the last three choir notes), and a mind-boggling, hideous crescendo-diminuendo on the last chord. For me these last bars are a woeful disturbance, a miscalculation of epic proportions, creating an anticlimax that rules this performance totally out of the running.

(And how many critics have notices the doubling of speed? - Kullervopete concludes his previous posting with a very appropriate comment in this respect too.)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew B:

What score do you have?

The odd years of Berglunds career (quite humble) were filled with revitalizing Kullervo score. They are FILLED to the max with mistakes. I think Segerstam has the greatly unappreciated Urtext in his hands. That is the best Score available of Kullervo. I am not sure if it is available for the wider public. Mine are from Breitkopf (plus two revisions full of wrong tempos etc and of course touched by yours truly after hearing some of the touches by these maestros themselves)

I still think the new Segerstam, Isokoski, Hakala, HPO (Ondine) is the greatest one. I really like the drama. Obviously. I think this is the first time someone does it "by the book". It is all too grim. Like the Saga is.. I like it! Slow tempos etc.. well they are all inherited from Jalas. Can you get closer to the origin?

I really like the first Kullervo with Bournemouth/Berglund. It has the real sound of the elder times.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Classics Today names the Segerstam/Helsinki Kullervo on Ondine one of the 10 best discs of 2008. You can read about it here:

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Not my favorite Kullervo recording, but I must say, I'm happy to see Sibelius counted among Classics Today's top 10.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Decent review. I note that David Hurwitz regards the second movement 'Kullervo's Youth' as a masterpiece. I would only say that this label fits the complete work!--kp

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Sorry for a slow response to arenan's question - I missed the posting]

I have a modern edition of Kullervo by Teemu Honkanen BUT all of the mistakes and additions that he made have been taken away after consultation with the manuscript. That's how I know that the ugly string accents (violins open E strings) near the start are not marked! I've also confirmed such points in the new Breitkopf JSW score by Glenda Goss. (In the case of this accent, Jalas didn't play it!)

There are, as I say, may good things in the Segerstam performance... but HOW did he justify that change of speed at the end? (I've spoken with members of the choir who found it very odd - and quite amusing, in a head-scratching way - so much so that their first comment on the recording was to warn me about it!)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got the third volume of the BIS Sibelius Edition in the mail today, and I'm listening to its Kullervo recording (Vänskä) just now. It's somewhat difficult for me to listen to, being so used to the all-out drama from Berglund's premiere recording and the full-blooded sound of Paavo Jarvi's recording, whereas this recording seems intensely withdrawn, everything very crisp but nothing particularly emphasized. Granted, I haven't heard the whole thing yet, but that's the impression I have so far. And the second movement is really fascinating; I wouldn't call it too slow, because it's called for in the score (Grave) and, more importantly, it works--but I'm kind of curious as to what got Vänskä into such a tempo when there is virtually no precedent as far as I know.

EDIT: The third movement is an absolute revelation; so much detail! I never heard any of this in any of the three other recordings I've heard. And it's giving me goosebumps, too. Now I see why the first two movements are so inward-looking. The third's a real firecracker.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berglund first so far. I had the LPs when it came out. My brain was not attuned to Sibelius, so the first 20 years I just played the vocal parts.

I get it now, but still take two separate sessions to play it.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always had a soft spot for Berglund and Bournmouth premier recording. Ground breaking stuff at the time. Its still one of my favourites--named my house after it. Smile kp

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Paavo Järvi is fine too. He gets a little something out of Movement I where I tend to lose interest from time to time. Vocals and recorded sound are fine, I have trouble with all the non Finnish choirs. Estonian is essentially Finnish.

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