Sibelius: Complete Works for Mixed Choir / Seppänen, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
The fourth album on Ondine by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is dedicated to the composer’s complete works for mixed choir. The award-winning choir, one of the finest of its kind internationally, is conducted here by leading Finnish choir director Heikki Seppänen. Choral music was a genre in which Sibelius showed interest from his student days to the near close of his life. This double-disc set includes patriotic works, works closely connected to the Finnish national epic Kalevala, student works, Christmas songs, works based on Finnish poetry, works written for school (including Three Songs for American Schools) as well as works written for academic promotions, inauguration ceremonies and different official occasions. It also includes two versions of the famous Finlandia Hymn. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s first Ondine release was given an ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Gramophone Magazine and ‘Disc of the Year’ by German weekly Die Zeit.
The Finnish choral tradition was rich and active when Sibelius came of age as a composer in the late 1880s, and he wrote choral works all his life. The pieces on this rewarding recording range from folk songs suffused with Finnish character to enigmatic works with sometimes dark lyrics. There are festival and school songs, patriotic anthems, a cantata for an academic degree ceremony and, inevitably, two versions of “Finlandia.” Most of the pieces are a cappella. Many unfold in clear, block-chord settings of the texts. If you want to stump friends with a guessing game, play the beguiling, slightly strange “Glade of Tuoni” from this recording and ask them to identify the composer. You’ll win, as you will by picking up this album.
– New York Times
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Catalog Number: ODE 1260-2D
Number of Discs: 2
Period: 20th Century
Composer: Jean Sibelius
Conductor: Heikki Seppänen
Orchestra/Ensemble: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir