ALBUM TITLE: Sibelius
WORKS: Lemminkainen in Tuonela, Op. 22/2; Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 96; In Memoriam, Op. 59 etc
PERFORMER: Lahti SO/Osmo Vänskä
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1485
Another Sibelius CD of exceptional interest and fascination from Lahti and Osmo Vänskä in the BIS complete survey. There are three novelties here: the very first version of In Memoriam, the reconstruction of the 1896 version of Lemminkäinen in Tuonela by Colin Davis, the American scholar (not Sir Colin), and the first version of the D minor Humoresque. The first ideas of In Memoriam date from 1905 but Sibelius did not return to it until late in 1909. When the proofs came, he was seized with doubts, particularly concerning the orchestration, and putting the two versions side by side offers an illuminating and instructive experience. A pity, I think, that he excised the marvellously atmospheric opening bars!
In the original suite, Lemminkäinen in Tuonela was placed before The Swan of Tuonela (hence the numbering), the order being reversed for the 1897 revision. When Vänskä recorded the Suite in 1999 (BIS-CD-1015), he included as an appendix the original versions of the first and fourth Legends as well as a brief excerpt from Lemminkäinen in Tuonela. Now enough of the score and parts have come to light to enable the reconstruction of the complete original and Sibelians will be able to compare Sibelius’s first thoughts or something closely approaching them, with his final 1939 revision. Impressive playing throughout and an excellent recording. Robert Layton