Sibelius: Choral songs (complete)

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LABELS: Finlandia
WORKS: Choral songs (complete)
PERFORMER: Pia Freund (soprano), Tom Nyman (tenor), Antti Suhonen, Esa Ruuttunen (baritone), Ilmo Ranta (piano), Johanna Torikka (organ, harmonium)Tapiola Chamber Choir & Friends of Sibelius/Hannu NorjanenTapiola Choir/Kari Ala-Pöllänen
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-19054-2
Here is a corner of Sibelius’s output which is probably of more interest to performers than listeners, especially when served up in such quantity. The 72 short items on these CDs cover the whole of Sibelius’s composing career, and many weren’t intended for public consumption. Whether they are sacred, patriotic, or children’s songs, occasional works for ceremonial use, or settings of the Kalevala, they tend to be simple partsongs, mostly unaccompanied. That isn’t to belittle them: most were composed for amateurs to sing, and serve an admirable purpose admirably. Three of them go further, and hint at the genius of the mature composer: the bleak Song of my Heart, which was sung at Sibelius’s funeral; Nostalgia, written for the three daughters of an old friend; and something which isn’t a choral piece at all – the melody which Sibelius wrote for the bells of Kallio church, recorded authentically in situ, and an example of what a great composer can do when he has only seven notes to play with. The performances are fluent and committed, though there’s the odd roughness in some of the solos. Martin Cotton