Sakari Oramo

Conductor

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Distant Light

Distant Light


Barber:

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Bjork:

Virus

Joga

All is Full of Love

arr. Hans Ek

Hillborg:

The Strand Settings

world premiere recording


Read Katherine's exclusive interview with Renée Fleming about the recording here.

‘Distant Light’ is Renée Fleming’s first foray into the hypnotic world of Scandinavian music. For her first new studio album in three years she has chosen to inspire and provoke with a daring mix of music.

The title comes from a poem in a new song cycle dedicated to Renée and here receiving its world premiere recording: Anders Hillborg’s ‘The Strand Settings’.

"At once atmospheric, elegiac and unsettling, the work was crafted with Ms. Fleming’s creamy voice in mind”, wrote the New York Times at its first performance in 2013. One of Sweden’s brightest star composers Hillborg has a close relationship with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic where this recording was made in February 2016 with its principal conductor Sakari Oramo.

Renée couples this with three songs by Björk in specially commissioned orchestrations by the brilliant Swedish composer and arranger Hans Ek, recorded here for the first time.

Why Björk? Both she and Renée are recipients of Sweden’s Polar Music Prize. Both dare to be original. In the fascinating booklet interview Renée talks about her admiration for Björk: “Her originality is breathtaking. She just blazes her own path forward”. Renée chooses the songs which mean the most to her personally and musically.

“At once alluring and uneasy, the songs are a gift for Renée Fleming, whose siren-like soprano draws the listener on to the unknown. The atmosphere is potently captured by Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.” Financial Times, 6th January 2017 ****

“As a vehicle for the soaring purity of Fleming’s voice, and as an evocation of Strand’s very finely etched sensibility, Hillborg’s settings are genuinely beautiful and their cumulative effect is powerful...And the three songs by Björk that end the disc don’t seem out of place either.” The Guardian, 11th January 2017 ****

“[Fleming] still commands the creamiest, spine-shiveringly sensuous timbre in the business. That’s evident throughout Knoxville, as is her excellent diction, an area often perceived as her weakness...There’s a much more ghostly, even ominous, atmosphere in Hillborg’s writing.” The Times, 6th January 2017 *****

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Decca - 4830415

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Anders Hillborg: Sirens

Anders Hillborg: Sirens


Hillborg:

Beast Sampler for orchestra

Hannah Holgersson (soprano)

Sakari Oramo

O dessa ögon for soprano and strings

Sakari Oramo

Cold Heat for orchestra

David Zinman

Sirens for two sopranos, mixed choir and orchestra

Ida Falk Winland & Hannah Holgersson (sopranos)

Swedish Radio Choir, Esa-Pekka Salonen


The works recorded here testify to the widespread international interest in the music of the Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Two purely orchestral works, Beast Sampler and Cold Heat, frame the brief and emotionally concentrated song O dessa ögon for soprano and strings, and demonstrate Hillborg's expert handling of the forces of the large symphony orchestra, often described by him as a 'sound animal'. Sirens, the closing and culminating work on this disc, is also Hillborg’s largest work to date in terms of both scoring and duration, and its emotional depth is unmatched in his output. Inspired by the dangerous yet alluring sirens in Homer's Odyssey, Hillborg has constructed a score and libretto in which the sirens – two soprano soloists and a large mixed choir – with increasing desperation attempt to manipulate Ulysses. Performing this colourful programme is the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, joined by the sopranos Ida Falk Winland and Hannah Holgersson and two of Sweden's foremost choirs, the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and the Swedish Radio Choir. The performances are led by three different conductors: the eminent trio of Sakari Oramo, David Zinman and Esa-Pekka Salonen, dedicatees of the works they conduct here.

“Rich, sonorous playing from Oramo's orchestra under all three conductors, and singing full of purity, accuracy and fresh air above it; both soloists are agile, strong and able to tell a story. But that all comes from what Hillborg writes for them. Sirens should be heard.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

“[this music] is unpacked with great care by Esa-Pekka Salonen, with Ida Falk Winland and Holgersson as the entwining soprano soloists. All the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic performances, under Sakari Oramo for Beast Sampler and O Dessa Ögon and David Zinman for Cold Heat, are first-rate; there seems to be no doubt that orchestras enjoy playing Hillborg’s music.” The Guardian, January 2016 ****

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Grieg: Piano Concerto & Lyric Pieces

Grieg: Piano Concerto & Lyric Pieces


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Lyric Pieces Op. 38: No. 8 - Waltz

Lyric Pieces Op. 12: No. 1 - Arietta

Lyric Pieces Op. 43: No. 1 - Butterfly

Lyric Pieces Op. 47: No. 3 - Melody

Lyric Pieces Op. 43: No. 2 - Lonely Wanderer

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 3 - March of the Trolls

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 4 - Nocturne

Lyric Pieces Op. 57: No. 6 - Homesickness

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 3 - At your feet

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 5 - At the cradle

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 1 - Once upon a Time

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 7 - Remembrances


The work of a young musician of 25, the celebrated Piano Concerto by Grieg combines the great Romantic tradition and Norwegian folk music. The 'Lyric Pieces' are among the works that made Grieg world-famous. As in the case of the Piano Concerto, commentators have held that a certain combination of intervals (the ‘Grieg motif’) is chiefly responsible for its specific Norwegian quality. For Grieg himself the question of Norwegian culture was a tremendously important one, and he used his international reputation to fight tirelessly for the recognition of Norway as a state. He owed that reputation in considerable part to the 'Lyric Pieces', which he wrote over the space of four decades. They are indebted to the Romantic character piece in free form, which became widespread after 1830 and found outstanding representatives in Schumann and Mendelssohn. Grieg certainly also composed them with a view to their use in teaching the piano, with the result that they swiftly won the hearts of devotees of domestic music-making all over Europe. The present recording offers a representative selection: a set of eight pieces with which the 24year-old composer scored a resounding success immediately upon publication. He had managed to establish a personal voice virtually at a stroke. Further books followed over the decades, and, surprisingly enough, he enjoyed unfailing success with them, even though he hardly changed his ‘artistic strategy’.

“it is an interpretation into which soloist and orchestra seem, gratifyingly, to have grown together... the romantic expansiveness that marks their interpretation overall is tempered by playing from both pianist and orchestra that is as crisp and highly charged as one could want.” The Guardian, 28th May 2015 ****

“I really fell for Perianes’ playing here, I love that he embraces the breadth of that cadenza, he plays it as if it’s totally fresh like we’ve never heard those themes before … just gorgeous.” CD Review

“Perianes's performance is of such a fearless and arresting brilliance that it virtually erases memories of the past. For here is Grieg restored to all its first icy, northern and unsentimental glory...The BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo are with their soloist all the way so that you may well find yourself falling in love and in awe all over again with this evergreen Romantic masterpiece.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

“There is spontaneity to Perianes’ playing in this live concerto that is most compelling … the orchestra plays with great beauty. Perianes’ greatest achievement is the first movement cadenza, which emerges here as a brooding tone-poem; the debt to Lizst is clear...The stand-out success is the remarkable ‘Notturno’; here Grieg’s interior side clearly resonates with Perianes.” International Piano, July/August 2015

“This version will give pleasure to those who want an unfussy, brilliant and virtuosic concerto … The CD also includes a studio recording of a dozen Lyric Pieces, showing the pianist fully understands the idiom. It is all well recorded and performed.” Pianist Magazine, August/September 2015

“enormously exciting and tremendous fun … Perianes’ playing is full of sensitivity and subtlety, and will give a great deal of pleasure.” MusicWeb International, November 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2015

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902205

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Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3


Nielsen:

Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7 (FS16)

Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (FS60) 'Sinfonia espansiva'


The first volume of this new cycle was widely acclaimed upon its release in December 2013 (BIS2028).

Symphony No. 1 owes much to Schumann and was completed in 1892, when the composer was still in his mid-twenties.

Symphony No. 3 was the true breakthrough work, following twenty years after the first symphony and rapidly taken up by Europe’s leading orchestras.

“Bravo...to the Finnish conductor, a Sibelian whose credentials need no advertisement, for championing his national composer’s exact Danish contemporary’s symphonies. This second instalment of his Nielsen cycle offers bracing accounts of the G minor (No 1) and “Espansiva” (No 3).” Sunday Times, 18th January 2015

“It's a joy to find so much intelligent care and attention expended on Nielsen's First Symphony...You can feel the exuberance, the intellectual control, and also the sense of danger...But there's also a tender, affectionate streak in this symphony, which Oramo and his orchestra bring out well while resisting the temptation to indulge...The Sinfonia Espansiva (No. 3) is also finely controlled and full of character.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

“Oramo had his Royal Stockholm Philharmonic wind players relax into [No. 1's] almost Baroque-like ornateness, and when the tune 'turns' in the violins, its does so with effortless charm...The 'Espansiva' heart of the [Third] is the second movement...and is a departure in every sense - it's a rarefied air that Oramo breathes.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“This is a Nielsen First to sweep listeners off their feet and blow old favourites into the proverbial weeds…[and the] Third is no less gripping...This is a field-leading release, both musically and sonically; roll on Two and Six.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

Orchestral Winner

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BIS - BIS2048

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1

Elgar: Symphony No. 1


Elgar:

Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 'In London Town'


Conducting this all-Elgar programme is Sakari Oramo, the Finnish conductor who has been all but adopted by English music-lovers and orchestras - for ten years he was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and since 2013 he holds the post as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

It was during the winter of 1900–01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into his first symphony. However, the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture - an unashamedly populist portrait of ‘old London town’.

As for the First Symphony, seven years would pass before its première in Manchester and subsequent London performance.

“Oramo has secured a vibrant, electric orchestral sound that underpins everything, making even the slow introduction seem exuberant underneath its finely judged nobilmente breadth...The orchestra offers similarly big-hearted, vital playing in Cockaigne. The opening theme kicks up its heels cheekily.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

“Oramo's commendably trim and purposeful conception is clearly the result of painstaking preparation and he certainly knows his way round the score; scarcely a fleck of detail escapes his eagle eye, and the antiphonally divided fiddles are an enormous boon...Oramo's reading of the main work has enough in the tank to merit investigation by any Elgarian seeking a fresh view.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Oramo uses a lot of rubato in the scherzo and at times you can feel it lurching into a slower gear with a sudden clunk. It’s like being in the car with someone who is learning how to use the clutch...That’s my only complaint about a performance which is outstanding all the way through...A First Symphony that only just misses perfection.” MusicWeb International, 1st July 2014

“There’s nothing portentous about the performance: take the athleticism demanded of the band by Oramo in the Scherzo — full of bright, good-natured humour — and the dashing final Allegro. It’s good news that non-Brits can respond to this music with such affection and authenticity.” Sunday Times, 3rd August 2014

“It's a finely judged and paced performance, one that avoids extremes but still manages to give a tremendous sense of cumulative momentum to the whole work...Oramo has always obtained a wonderfully refined string tone from the orchestras he conducts, and the hushed playing of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic...is strikingly effective.” The Guardian, 31st July 2014 ****

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Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 8

Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 8


Nørgård:

Symphony No. 1 'Sinfonia austera'

Symphony No. 8


With this world premiere recording, the Vienna Philharmonic offers new perspectives on the most visionary voice of Nordic music and one of the greatest symphonists of our time, Danish composer Per Nørgård (b. 1932). Conducted on this occasion by Finnish Sakari Oramo, these performances of Nørgård’s Symphonies 1 and 8 – two milestones composed with almost six decades between them are the legendary orchestra’s first recording of new Nordic music.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The premiere recording of Nørgård’s latest symphony is a rewarding listen, the Vienna Philharmonic bringing their perfection to his fascinating and attractive sound world.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

16th June 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2014

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unknown

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Dacapo - 6220574

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Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5

Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5


Nielsen:

Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 (FS76) 'The Inextinguishable'

Symphony No. 5, Op. 50 (FS97)


In 1962, when Leonard Bernstein chose to record Carl Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony, this provided the composer with a wider international breakthrough some thirty years after his death. The work has since been hailed as one of the greatest symphonies of the twentieth century, but at its first performances during the early 1920’s audiences were less enthusiastic, finding it puzzling and difficult to understand. Although unwilling to provide an explanation of the symphony, Nielsen had however inscribed a kind of motto, ‘Dark, resting forces – Awakened forces’, at the end of his draft score and later wrote that it was ‘something very primitive I wanted to express: the division of dark and light, the battle between evil and good.’ Some eight years earlier, as he began work on his Symphony No.4, similar thoughts had been stirring in the composer. In 1914, with the First World War about to engulf Europe, he had written to his wife about a work with which he hoped to express ‘what we understand by the life-urge’. Giving it the title ‘The Inextinguishable’ at its publication, Nielsen later explained his intentions further: ‘If the whole world was destroyed, Nature would once again begin to beget new life and push forward with the strong and fine forces that are to be found in the very stuff of existence… These “inextinguishable” forces are what I have tried to represent.’ These two central works in Nielsen’s production have now been selected for the first instalment of a complete Nielsen cycle by Sakari Oramo and his Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Having enjoyed a close collaboration since 2008, this team has become ever more fine-tuned, as demonstrated on their previous BIS release, a performance of Edward Elgar’s mighty Second Symphony which was praised by the reviewer in Gramophone for ‘playing of conspicuous finesse and commendable ardour’ in an ‘abundantly characterful, cannily paced and deeply sincere traversal’.

“Oramo certainly knows how to generate and sustain a good current. Both of these symphonies are conceived as strong, purposeful wholes...Oramo also has a truly admirable way with phrasing Nielsen's long lines - his melodies are rarely as predictable as their opening motifs suggest.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“Oramo's pathway through these incendiary works is valiant and thoughtful - even if he point-blank refuses to emerge from the skirmish with a bloodied nose...who could blame Oramo for wanting to carve out terrain to call his own?” Gramophone Magazine, May 2014

“these are thrilling performances...Oramo’s grip on the music never fails, and he sees the [Fifth] symphony through to its hard-earned conclusion. These are central works in the canon of the 20th century symphony, and these recordings are a truly significant contribution to their performance history.” MusicWeb International, 9th April 2014

“this first instalment of a full set of the Nielsen symphonies suggests it could be very special: the performances have an irresistible momentum...In both symphonies the Stockholm orchestra responds wonderfully too.” The Guardian, 6th February 2014 ****

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BIS - BIS2028

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Foulds: 3 Mantras, Dynamic Triptych, Mirage & Lyra Celtica

Foulds: 3 Mantras, Dynamic Triptych, Mirage & Lyra Celtica


Foulds:

Three Mantras (from Avatara), Op. 61B

Dynamic Triptych (Piano Concerto)

Mirage, Op. 21 (1910)

Lyra Celtica, Op. 50 (c. 1925)

Apotheosis, Op. 18 (1909)

Music-Pictures Group III, Op. 33

April-England, Op. 48 No. 1

Song of Ram Dass

Keltic Lament


“A missing link between Edwardian opulence and the avant-garde, Foulds wrote rampaging, adventurous, iridescent music, splendidly championed by Oramo and the CBSO.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 ****

“The nine works...display the full range of Foulds's talents, from the exotic and the ecstatic to the wild and poetic. Sometimes like late Strauss, at others more early Messiaen, in the end he is purely himself.” The Observer, 11th August 2013

Apex - 2564645113

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$8.75

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Brahms: Violin Concerto

Brahms: Violin Concerto


Brahms:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Hungarian Dances, WoO 1 Nos. 1-21 (complete)

arr. Joseph Joachim

Lauma Skride (piano)


Baiba Skride (violin)

Baiba Skride is not just one of the most sought-after artists when it comes to finding a soloist for one of the great violin concertos. She is also much in demand for chamber music. This makes her ideal for her new recording, her first on the ORFEO label, devoted to the work of Johannes Brahms. It is a highly promising start to our collaboration with this First-Prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2001. Besides Brahms’s Violin Concerto, she here offers his Hungarian Dances in the version for violin and piano made by Joseph Joachim. The long-standing musical partnership of Brahms and Joachim is reflected doubly here, for Joachim was also the dedicatee of the Concerto. Baiba Skride’s Brahms interpretations are themselves characterized by happy musical constellations. In Sakari Oramo she has a conductor who is himself a violinist and who offers the appropriate momentum with the Royal Philharmonic in Stockholm. One clearly hears the energy and vigour with which every instrumental grouping plays. Thus the great arch of the work is perfectly formed, from the solo interjections (not just from the violin!) to the symphonic dialogue between the partners. The chamber-music intimacy of the Hungarian Dances could not be achieved more powerfully or more beautifully than in Baiba Skride’s tried-and-tested duo partnership with her sister Lauma Skride at the piano. Unhindered by the “pianistic” violin part with its many double stoppings, Baiba develops an ensemble that is in tempo and in its gestures carefully moulded with the piano. The piano may have what is clearly an accompanying part, and Lauma Skride certainly adapts to her sister’s playing in an unpretentious manner, but nor is her part understated. The result is a performance of these atmospheric dances that is at times resilient and fiery, at other times melodic, gentle and smooth. They belong just as much to Brahms’s art as do the formal stringency and unity we find in his large-scale works – and it is all the lovelier when we find all of this on a single CD recording.

“This performance...reveals Baiba Skride as the complete violinist, with an exceptionally precise, reliable technique, splendid tone and presence, and discerning musicianship, who makes the quietest moments tell. And her playing is complemented by a sympathetic, finely balanced accompaniment.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011

“It’s soon clear that Baiba Skride is going to give an intensely poetic, singing account of the solo part [of the Concerto]. Her technique sounds flawless – as one would expect at this level – but I really admired the consistency of her tone, especially above the stave, as well as her ability to sustain the line.” John Quinn, MusicWeb International, November 2011

Orfeo - C829112A

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Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4


Schumann:

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'Rhenish'

Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120


Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording of Schumann’s Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (88697437072) was the first release in their partnership since Oramo became their principal conductor in 2008, and was extremely well-received, described as “exhilarating and vividly dramatic” by The Guardian.

Sony Classical now presents the second recording in this partnership, Schumann’s last two symphonies, which were also recorded in the Stockholm Concert Hall.

“There's no shortage of outstanding recordings of all the Schumann symphonies already, but these are good enough to make a second disc containing the Third and Fourth a welcome prospect” The Guardian

“Sakari Oramo's strongest attribute is his sense of line. His feeling for the long phrase - sometime for a whole movement as a phrase in itself - is the quality that makes him an impressive Sibelian...Oramo's Rhenish should be strong enough to persuade Schumann-agnostics that he could think in large spans, while the Fourth in genuinely exciting.” BBC Music Magazine

“Throughout both performances the Stockholm Philharmonic horns have a field day (so do the Sony engineers), but the result is never crude or unbalanced. I loved Oramo's thoughtful slowing at around 4' 53'' into the second movement, before the main theme blazes back, and his delicate handling of the third movement” Gramophone Magazine, July 2011 ****

“Above all, these are performances informed though not conditioned by authentic practice. Thus the opening movement of the Third Symphony has a natural buoyancy without the trciky string articulation seeming at all rushed...Oramo is an excellent modern choice.” International Record Review, May 2011

“The Fourth Symphony is the more convincing, especially in its last two movements; the scherzo is feisty and the tensions of the introduction to the finale are discharged in a wonderfully unbuttoned account of the main allegro” The Guardian, 14th April 2011 ***

Sony - 88697646872

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$13.75

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