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Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite, Op. 11
III. Alla marcia
Jean Sibelius: King Kristian II, Op. 27
Act II, Scene 2: Musette
Act III, Scene 1: Menuetto
Act V, Scene 3: Sangen om korsspindeln (Fool's Song of the Spider)
After Act I: Nocturne
Act III, Scene 1: Serenade
Act IV: Ballade
Jean Sibelius: Pelleas and Melisande, Op. 46 (original full version)
No. 1: Prelude to Act I Scene 1
No. 2: Prelude to Act I Scene 2
No. 2a: Melodrama in Act I Scene 4, "At the seashore"
No. 3: Prelude to Act II Scene 1
No. 6: Prelude to Act III Scene 1
No. 4: Song in Act III Scene 2, De trenne blinda systrar (The 3 Blind Sisters)
No. 5: Melodrama in Act III Scene 4, "Pastorale"
No. 7: Prelude to Act IV Scene 1
No. 7a: Prelude to Act IV Scene 2
No. 8: Prelude to Act V Scene 2
“Sibelius supplied four numbers for the February 1898 Helsinki premiere of Adolf Paul's historical drama King Christian II – the ' Minuet', 'The Fool's Song', 'Elegy' and 'Musette' – and these eventually took their place in the five-movement concert suite alongside the 'Nocturne', 'Serenade' and 'Ballade' which the composer completed the same summer. The street music of the 'Musette' is simply delightful in its original garb without added strings, and in both the 'Serenade' and 'Ballade' Vänskä uncovers strong thematic and stylistic links with the almost exactly contemporaneous First Symphony. The defiant quality these fine artists bring to 'The Fool's Song' ( eloquently delivered by Raimo Laukka) is also very likeable. Music-making of refreshing perception and meticulous sensitivity similarly illuminates this first complete recording of Sibelius's original incidental music for a 1905 production of Maeterlinck's symbolist play (the venue was again Helsinki's Swedish Theatre). There are 10 numbers in all. The performance of the Karelia Suite in its original scoring (which acts as a splendid curtain- raiser here) has been compiled from Vänskä's complete recording of the original Karelia music. Both outer movements have a real sense of pageantry about them (Vänskä directs with exhilaratingly clean-limbed swagger), though there are certain reservations about his occasional predilection for exaggerated and affected pianopianissimos. Thus, at around 3'30" in the central 'Ballade' (track 2), the dynamic level drops almost below the threshold of audibility and has you rushing to boost the volume control ( Vänskä repeats this trick twice in the King ChristianII 'Elegy', and towards the end of the final number in Pelléas). For optimum results, therefore, playback needs to be higher than many listeners may think reasonable. That said, the engineering is quite spectacularly truthful throughout and there's no doubt that this is an unusually absorbing collection.”
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