‘When I was born, in 1944, all the family’s friends in the choirs that my father conducted and in which my mother sang were saying: ‘Finally they got their Beethoven.’ They were referring to me and, yes, it wasn’t long before I was playing his symphonies, arranged for piano duet, either with one of my sisters or my father, taking turns at the different parts. I had learned to notate music by the age of 5, as well as writing and reading capital letters. So I was a wunderkind actually! and, when dinner was ready, the call that came through the window was the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony whistled by my father.
As regards my professional conducting career, there was my memorable first marathon of all his symphonies one Sunday in Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall, using three orchestras but just me as the conductor. So, the Beethoven musical idiom got a special space between my ears. Consequently, I was delighted to receive Naxos’ invitation to record Beethoven’s choral works, following the successful release of my Sibelius series for the label with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.’
– Leif Segerstam
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Christus am Ölberge *
Hanna-Leena Haapamäki, Soprano *
Jussi Myllys, Tenor * • Niklas Spångberg, Bass *
Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven’s only oratorio Christus am Ölberge (‘Christ on the Mount of Olives’) portrays Jesus’ emotional struggles in the garden of Gethsemane before being seized by soldiers and taken for crucifixion. The work has an Italianate form with recitatives, arias and choruses, and its operatic attributes show Christ as a very human figure, a dramatic precursor to the sufferings of Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio. The tender and beautiful Elegischer Gesang is a memorial to the young wife of one of Beethoven’s close friends.
Listen to an extract from
Preiset ihn, ihr Engelchöre (Praise him, choirs of angels)
About the Artists
is currently chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also conducted many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, and was one of the most important ambassadors for Sibelius’ 2015 anniversary year. His many recordings have been critically acclaimed, and feature works by contemporary composers as well as the complete symphonies of Mahler, Sibelius and Nielsen among many others.
Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis
(CCA) has specialised in large-scale choral works since the choir’s inception in 1982. Virtually the entire canon of works for choir and orchestra are in the CCA’s repertoire. The CCA has also expanded its repertoire to include opera, performing in the world premiere of Müller-Berghaus’ Die Kalewainen in Pochjola
in 2017, and in Wagner’s Parsifal
for the Turku Music Festival in 2018.
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. Several of the orchestra’s recordings have been awarded platinum discs and other prizes. In 2019 the orchestra won the International Classical Music Award for Best Collection with their recording of Jean Sibelius’ Incidental Music (Naxos 8.506032).
Finnish soprano Hanna-Leena Haapamäki
has been a regular performer at the Finnish National Opera since 2005. Haapamäki came second in the Lappeenranta Singing Competition in 2004 and received the Finnish National Opera special prize. She has appeared as a soloist with numerous Finnish orchestras and choirs and is also a versatile recitalist and chamber musician.
Finnish tenor Jussi Myllys
is a versatile singer who performs a broad repertoire across opera, concert and Lied. He has been a member of the ensemble at the Oper Frankfurt and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, and guest engagements have taken him to numerous European opera houses. He has worked with renowned conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ádám Fischer and Zubin Mehta.
Finnish bass Niklas Spångberg
made his debut at the Finnish National Opera as Sid in La fanciulla del West
, and has since performed mainly in Northern Europe, including at the Finnish National Opera, the Savonlinna Opera Festival and theatres in Stockholm, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa, Mariehamn, Västerås and Pori as well as at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
Highly acclaimed recordings conducted by Leif Segerstam
‘The Turku Philharmonic orchestra and Leif Segerstam dig deep into this rich theatrical sound world, captivating meaningful details and
– Best Collection,
Music Awards (2019)
Falkman • Dalayman • Qvale
Wahlund • Stregård • Hedlund • Eklöf
Chorus and Orchestra of the
Royal Opera, Stockholm • Segerstam
‘Segerstam proves a strong, thrusting interpreter, tautly holding the drama together, with the impact heightened by the vividness of the live recording.’
– The Penguin Guide
Tristan und Isolde
Millgramm • Forsén • Fassbender
Lundberg • Kyhle • Dike
Royal Swedish Opera Male Chorus
and Orchestra • Segerstam
‘Segerstam is an experienced Wagner conductor … fully in control of his singers and the very fine Royal Swedish Orchestra.’
– American Record Guide