PERFORMER: Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano), Jorma Hynninen (baritone); Polytech Choir, Finnish RSO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-14906-2 DDD
Saraste’s cycle of the numbered Sibelius symphonies was one of the most exciting issues of 1995 – a feast of idiomatic playing with a visceral feel for style. This recording of his early choral symphony completes the odyssey and is very much in the mould of the earlier cycle. Tempi are brisk, but with a strong sense of the epic background to this stirring work.
Saraste’s nearest competition is his compatriot Esa-Pekka Salonen (Sony). But excellent as Salonen’s performance is, there is a hint of caution which blunts the edge of this marvellous, reckless music. Saraste’s Finnish RSO doesn’t have quite the virtuosity of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but their insight and enthusiasm make this Kullervo the most desirable available. Jan Smaczny