TuurRachmaninovSibelius

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: TuurRachmaninovSibelius
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Anu Tali & Nordic SO
WORKS: Action Passion Illusion; Zeitraum
PERFORMER: Lass Poysti, Latvia State Choir, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Anu Tali
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 61992
An interesting collection of works, in more than interesting performances. There’s just one snag, though. While it’s valuable to have the original, smaller-scale melodrama version of the recently rediscovered Sibelius tone poem The Wood Nymph, especially in such a gutsy, well-shaped performance, the narrator is very closely miked. However useful it may be to be able to pinpoint exactly the correspondences between text and music, it’s very distracting if what you really want is to enjoy the music.

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That said, all the performances are stylish and full of the requisite intensity. Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s works emerge particularly well. After fooling us for a minute or two that we’re about to hear a fairly typical piece of Penderecki-inspired modernism, Zeitraum soon discovers a chanting lyricism, plus exciting rhythmic impulses and harmonies that are definitely easier on the ear. Action Passion Illusion is more straightforward, more directly appealing and – especially in the impressive brooding central slow movement – more convincing.

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Anu Tali seems very sure of her way through all these works, keeping a firm hold on the reins in the Sibelius, but allowing Rachmaninov to luxuriate a little more in his Slavic melancholy. And apart from the annoying perspective in The Wood Nymph, the recordings do her and the orchestra justice. Stephen Johnson