A journey beyond the symphonies
Kuolema • King Christian II
Overture in A minor
Two Songs from Twelfth Night
Pia Pajala, Soprano • Waltteri Torikka, Baritone
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) was the most significant figure in the formation of Finland’s musical identity. Beyond the famous symphonies and tone poems he was prolific in other genres, including music for the theatre. This is the first of a six volume set which explores Sibelius’ prolific output beyond the core oeuvre of the symphonies. King Christian II and Kuolema ensured Sibelius’s fame throughout Europe, the latter including the haunting melody (track 2) which would later become the Valse triste. The Two Songs from Twelfth Night contrast the spectre of death with more comical moods, an effect also to be heard in one of Sibelius’s least performed orchestral works, the Overture in A minor.
Leif Segerstam is a conductor, composer, violinist and pianist with a prominent international career. He received diplomas from the Sibelius Academy in violin and conducting, and rounded off his studies at The Juilliard School in New York, where he was awarded a conducting diploma. Segerstam has conducted in most of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and La Scala. Since 2012 he has been Chief Conductor of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2004 Leif Segerstam was awarded the annual Finnish State Prize for Music and in 2005 the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal. He has gained wide acclaim for his many recordings with different orchestras. While pursuing his conducting career, Segerstam has also produced an extensive oeuvre as a composer.
The Turku Musical Society, which later formed the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, was founded in 1790. As the oldest orchestra in Finland, the ensemble continues to develop and flourish under the baton of renowned conductors. Since 2012, the orchestra’s 74 musicians have been under the artistic leadership of Leif Segerstam. The orchestra’s resident composer is Mikko Heiniö. Several of the Turku Philharmonic’s recordings have won platinum and other awards. In 2009 the orchestra was awarded the EMMA Classical Album of the Year for the recording Transient Moods by Pehr Henrik Nordgren.
A graduate of the opera programme at the Sibelius Academy, Finland, Pia Pajala is a versatile performer known for her wide vocal range, powerful expression and extensive repertoire. Pia Pajala has appeared in many operatic roles especially in contemporary works. She has also worked with some of Finland’s most respected conductors, including Sakari Oramo, Leif Segerstam and Santtu-Matias Rouvali, having performed as a soloist with such orchestras as the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. A renowned interpreter of Sibelius and Finnish classical music, she regularly performs with chamber ensembles.
The baritone Waltteri Torikka is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising new talents in the next generation of opera singers from Finland. He was named Young Musician of the Year 2014 by the Finnish Pro Musica Foundation and is the recipient of the 2013 Martti Talvela Foundation Award. He was awarded the 2009 HSBC laureates’ prize at the prestigious Mozart Academy of the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, and has appeared with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie and Camerata Salzburg, as well as working with conductors including Mikko Franck, Ville Matvejeff, Louis Langrée and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
“this disc represents a high point in this Sibelius cycle, and another impressive achievement for the New Zealand Symphony”