Sibelius: Incidental Music (CD)

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Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Petri Sakari

(Originally released as CHAN9158)

Appearing on the Chandos Classics label, this reissue features performances of incidental music by Jean Sibelius, recorded in 1992 by Petri Sakari and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. On its original release, the reviewer in Gramophone wrote: ‘I cannot remember having enjoyed this music more. Petri Sakari’s performance is totally unaffected, plain and full of enthusiasm; the players sound as if they are enjoying this score and communicate their pleasure.’ Sakari’s recordings with this orchestra during the 1990s made a significant contribution to the discography of Scandinavian music, notably of works by Grieg, Sibelius, and Madetoja.

Sibelius composed the score for King Christian II, a play by his friend Adolf Paul, in 1898 and it anticipates the richly romantic sound of the First Symphony. Here the usual suite is expanded by the inclusion of two movements from the incidental music not usually heard: the ‘Menuetto’ and ‘The Fool’s Song’.

Maurice Maeterlinck’s much-performed yet complex psychological drama Pelléas et Mélisande inspired works by Debussy, Fauré, Schoenberg, and Sibelius whose incidental music consists mainly of interludes in a uniquely dark, subdued, and typically Nordic vein.

Altogether sweeter is the delicate and poetic score for Swanwhite, August Strindberg ‘idealistic play of pure beauty’. Sibelius condensed the original music into a charming concert suite of seven movements, five of which are recorded here.

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Pelleas and Melisande, Op. 46 (version for orchestra)

I. At the Castle Gate
II. Melisande
IIa. At the Seashore
III. A Spring in the Park
IV. The 3 Blind Sisters
V. Pastorale
VI. Melisande and the Spinning Wheel
VII. Entr'acte
VIII. The Death of Melisande

Swanwhite Suite, Op. 54

II. The Harp
III. The Maidens with the Roses
V. The Prince alone
VI. Swanwhite and the Prince
VII. Song of Praise

King Kristian II, Op. 27 (arr. for baritone and orchestra)

I. Nocturne
II. Elegie
IIa. Musette
III. Menuetto
IV. Fool's Song of the Spider
V. Serenade
VI. Ballade

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