The incidental music of Jean Sibelius is as captivating and engaging as any of his other compositions; anyone who doesn't believe that statement should listen to this rather exceptional recording offered on the Regis label. The album begins with a powerful performance of Pélleas & Mélisande by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Enrique Bátiz. The orchestra delivers the kind of technically masterful playing that is synonymous with its name, but Bátiz infuses it with far more than just technical proficiency. Even without familiarity with Maeterlinck's drama, the music heard here outlines a clear story. The English horn solo, which introduces the weakened character of Melisande, is as mysterious and sensual as the character. Also on the CD is the London Symphony Orchestra directed by Loris Tjeknavorian in performances of the Karelia Suite and the King Christian II Suite. As in Pélleas & Mélisande, neither the technical proficiency nor musical interpretation of these performances can be faulted. The string playing is incredibly rich and draws out all of the intense chromaticism and dissonance that fills Sibelius' music. The wind solos are poignant and mournful; the brass playing is piercing and triumphant without being brash. This album belongs on the shelf of any Sibelius fan.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Pelléas et Mélisande, incidental music for orchestra, Op. 46|
|Karelia Suite, for orchestra, Op. 11|
|King Christian II (Kung Kristian II), orchestral suite, Op. 27|