Tuija Hakkila

Sibelius: Intimate Landscapes for Piano

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AllMusic Review by

Jean Sibelius is a huge source of pride for Finland, and this album ought to be as well. Pianist Tuija Hakkila interprets Sibelius' music with incredible sensitivity, phrasing, delicacy, and emotion that would do the composer proud. The pieces here are not grand concerti or orchestral works in the vein of the Austro-Germanic tradition; rather, they are a series of vignettes and impressions that arguably follow in the French style, and yet they are clearly Sibelius' own. Five Characteristic Impressions are scenes from a Finnish village, complete with majestic church bells in "The Village Church," a storm in the eponymous movement, or the somber melancholy of "In Mournful Mood." Cinq morceaux pour piano are a bouquet of flowers, each one unique and beautiful. For example, "Bellis" sounds almost classical, while "Oeillet" has a romantic flourish and a sparkling intensity that Hakkila brings to it. Hakkila is an introspective player, and yet she is not timid: she holds the listener's attention with her elegant touch and assured emotion. This intimacy is so inviting in "Romance" from Five Romantic Compositions, a piece that absolutely pulls at one's heartstrings. "Scène romantique" from the same suite is by turns dark and tormented, unfulfilled like an illicit affair, and then joyous with a restrained happiness. This is one of Sibelius' gifts, to be able to evoke emotion that is deep and stirring, and yet never melodramatic or outrageous. Der Sturm are clever vignettes that seem to pay homage to Debussy ("Berceuse" in particular), with a moving melody in "Episode" and the perfect lilt and rubato Hakkila captures in "Tanz der Nymphen." There is a second set of Cinq morceaux pour piano, this time about trees. As with the previous work, each tree is special, and one can hear the spruces moving in "Granen." The album concludes with a piece dedicated to his wife, Aino, and here Hakkila is joined by pianist Heini Kärkkäinen. There is a stately, reverent majesty in the series of chords played with great tenderness and sensitivity. This CD is truly a unique opportunity to hear Sibelius beyond the orchestra, performed by a wonderful artist.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Five Characteristic Impressions, Op. 103
1 3:40
2 2:09
3 2:03
4 1:37
5 2:28
Cinq morceaux pour piano, Op. 85
6 1:23
7 1:41
8 2:49
9 1:44
10 2:39
Five Romantic Compositions, Op. 101
11 3:03
12 1:43
13 2:56
14 2:20
15 3:26
Der Sturm, Op. 109
16 1:27
17 2:56
18 1:06
19 2:13
20 1:51
Cinq morceaux pour piano, Op. 75
21 1:46
22 2:45
23 1:59
24 1:46
25 3:30
Fünf Skizzen, Op. 114
26 2:36
27 2:00
28 1:26
29 1:44
30 1:51
Zwei Rondinos, Op. 68
31 3:10
32 2:00
33 3:41
blue highlight denotes track pick