Leevi Madetoja’s Kullervo, Op. 15 opens with a sforzando by strings and timpani followed by a loud, sustained tremolo and timpani roll. Horns enter in unison with a commanding call, trading back and forth, then growing softer, fainter, receding into the distance until the music has all but disappeared. It’s a terrific opening to a splendid tone poem that I have enjoyed many times over. This Ondine CD also contains Madetoja’s Symphony No. 2 and a popular student piece, Elegy, Op. 4/1.
Madetoja was a contemporary and student of Sibelius, and while his music shows that composer’s influence, it is uniquely his. Central to Madetoja’s orchestral output are his three symphonies. While his First Symphony was a critical success, the Second Symphony is the work that established Madetoja’s position decisively among leading Finnish composers. The Second was written in 1918, during the Finnish Civil War, which left its mark on the music. The earlier movements are attractive if melancholic, but the work grows more edgy as it progresses. The third is anxious, jagged, with a sense of an impending calamity and the final movement, somber and mournful.
Listeners who enjoy Sibelius will want to hear this. John Storgårds leads the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in terrific performances and Ondine provides excellent sound.
This new release of works by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947) features his Symphony No. 2, the symphonic poem Kullervo and the Elegy, the first movement from the Symphonic Suite, Op. 4. Ondine will release all three symphonies by Madetoja with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of John Storgårds.
1. Kullervo, Symphonic Poem, Op. 15 (14:13)
Symphony No. 2, Op. 35 (41:33)
2. I. Allegro moderato (13:23)
3. II. Andante (13:36)
4. III. Allegro non troppo (9:39)
5. IV. Andantino (4:53)
6. Elegy, Op. 4/1 (5:53)
Composer: Leevi Madetoja
Like Toivo Kuula, Leevi Madetoja hailed from Ostrobothnia. He was born in 1887 in Oulu, where he completed his early studies in 1906. He continued his education at Helsinki University and as a pupil of Sibelius at the Helsinki Music Institute.
For more information, please visit www.naxos.com/person/Leevi_Madetoja_24551/24551.htm.
Conductor: John Storgårds
Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds is one of Finland’s exceptional artists who have taken the classical music world by storm.
For more information, please visit www.johnstorgards.com.
Orchestra: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the first professional symphony orchestra to be founded in the Nordic countries, has been operating without a break for 130 years. During this time it has grown from a band of 36 players to an orchestra of 102 regular members giving concerts attended by a total audience of a good 100,000 a year.
For more information, please visit www.hel.fi.