Magazine article Gramophone

Sibelius: Belshazzar's Feast

Magazine article Gramophone

Sibelius: Belshazzar's Feast

Article excerpt

Sibelius

Belshazzar's Feast (a). Overture in E. Scene de ballet. The Language of the Birds--Wedding March. Cortege. Menuetto. Processional, Op 113 No 6

(a) Pia Pajala sop

Turku Philharmonic Orchestra / Leif Segerstam

Naxos (B) 8 573300 (63' * DDD * T/t)

This is the second volume in Naxos's new series of less familiar gems from the pen of Jean Sibelius. Top billing goes to the complete incidental music that the Finnish master supplied for a 1906 production in Helsinki's Swedish Theatre of Hjalmar Procope's drama Belshazzar's Feast. A genuinely rewarding achievement it comprises, too: try the haunting 'Song of the Jewish Girl' from Act 2 (delivered with plangent expression by soprano Pia Pajala), the ravishing 'Notturno' (with its inspired writing for solo flute), or the vernally fresh 'Dance of Life' and contrastingly sinister 'Dance of Death' (which Sibelius amalgamated into a single movement for the concert suite).

It's followed here by the intriguingly nervy 'Wedding March' from The Language of the Birds (intended for Adolph Paul's eponymous 1911 play but seemingly never used) and the festive polonaise entitled Cortege (1905); thematic ideas from the latter made their way into the exquisite 'Love Song' from the second set of Scenes historiques (1912) and concluding procession from The Tempest (1925). …

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