About this Recording
8.553758 - ENGLUND: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4 / Piano Concerto No. 1
English 

Einar Englund (1916-1999)
Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4
Piano Concerto No.1

"I can see your destiny in your eyes. You will become an accomplished composer."
Jean SibeIins to Einar Englnnd in 1941

Einar Englund (b. 1916), a Swedish-speaking Finn, can be described as a composer of great versatility: a symphonist, a second-generation Neo-Classicist, a reformer of Finnish music He was the first major representative of the "lost generation" - young men who had sacrificed their youth to the war - among Finnish composers, and the first seriously to challenge the status of Sibelius and Madetoja as Finnish symphonic composers and to guide musical trends away from the uncritical idealisation of National Romanticism. However, Englund seems to have remained, through no fault of his own, in the shadow of the great master of Ainola, Sibelius.

Even so, Englund's contribution to the genre of symphonic music has been great. the first performance of his Symphony No.1, "War Symphony", in 1947, was greeted with tumultuous acclaim. This, and the Symphony No.2, "Blackbird", first performed in 1948 and attracting perhaps even more public interest, are in a way a nod of acknowledgement to Sibelius. Both depict the horror and everyday reality of war. Heikki Aaltoila, a music critic with the Uusi Suomi newspaper, described Englund's Second Symphony, in which the flute and other wind instruments playa major role, as "a sarcastic statement by a rebellious soul on the brutality of Man and our distorted civilisation, compared with the purity of Nature". The Second Symphony was gradually forgotten until recent recordings, which have sparked new interest in it. David Hurwitz, writing in Fanfare, described the symphony as a true masterpiece in the symphonic literature of this century.

In 1955, Englund took part in a competition to write a concerto for piano and orchestra, organized by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. He won the competition, with Aarre Merikanto in second place. This concerto, which many feel is related to the music of Bartók, has become one of the most frequently performed Finnish piano concertos. Its themes are derived from the yoik, the vocal style of the Sámi people of Lappland, the same music that the composer drew on for his score for the film The White Reindeer. Englund wrote the work for himself, being an accomplished pianist and above all a fantastic improviser. "...The cadenza in the printed score is identical with the one that the artist improvised at the memorable concert where composer and pianist fused into an ideal symbiotic entity," the composer writes.

The music of Igor Stravinsky and Dmitry Shostakovitch made a profound impression on Englund, and when these composers died in the 1970s he was inspired to write a symphony "to the memory of a great composer". Englund relates: 'Their passing touched me deeply and prompted me to write a work to enshrine their careers... I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of profound grief and nostalgia that affected me by using musical images of my own memories, partly conflicting, partly ridiculous." Thus Symphony No.4 reflects not only Shostakovitch and Stravinsky, but Englund himself and his life.

The Fourth Symphony ("Nostalgic") opens, exceptionally, with a slow movement. The second movement draws upon a memory from the composer's childhood summers on the Baltic island of Gotland; hence the title, Tempus jugit. The third movement contains an allusion to Sibelius's Tapiola, perhaps in gratitude for the short moment that the young composer spent in Ainola with Sibelius. The last movement is sombre and even threatening. "At the end of this movement and the symphony, the music subsides, with nostalgia and melancholy, into a silence black as night...," the composer writes. The premiere of the Fourth Symphony was conducted by Jorma Panula in 1976 and the critics received it warmly: "...[Englund's] composer profile has gained an added dimension of profundity.." (Seppo Heikinheimo, in the broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat) "...an ascension towards nobility..." (Heikki Aaltoila, in Uusi Suomi).

Englund wrote seven symphonies, six concertos for solo instruments and a large number of other works (including music for the film The White Reindeer and for the play The Wall of China, the ballets Sinuhe and Odysseus (Ulysses), and numerous chamber music and solo instrument works), He died on 27th June, 1999.

To sum up, we may quote what Englund has said about music' "Music on paper is nothing! It does not exist! Notes are strange hieroglyphics, notated musical thoughts that have been created in the human brain, Music does not exist until the moment the musician makes those mystical signs come alive and turn into sound, As soon as the sound stops, the music no longer exists - it reverts to strange hieroglyphics, To silence!"

Quotations from Einar Englund: Sibeliuksen varjossa, Otava 1997

Niklas Sivelöv
Niklas Sivelöv was born in Sweden in 1968, starting his career as an organist, winning awards and prizes throughout Sweden. At the age of fourteen he turned his attention to the piano and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm as a student of Esther Bodin-Karpe and Laszlo Simon. He continued his studies in Helsinki with Liisa Pohjola and in Budapest with Gabriel Amiras. Niklas Sivelov has won prizes in international competitions both in Geneva and Cincinnati, and in 1994 he was awarded the Golden Apple Award in Sweden. He has given recitals throughout Europe, in South America, in the USA as well as in Japan. As a soloist he has collaborated with such conductors as Paavo Berglund, Okko Kamu, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leif Segerstam and Niklas Willen. Besides being a pianist he has also won a gradual reputation as a composer. Niklas Sivelov has previously recorded for Naxos the piano concerto of Franz Berwald with Okko Kamu (Naxos 8.553052), and solo piano music by Wilhelm Stenhammar (Naxos 8.553730).

Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra traces its roots back to the Turku Music Society, which was founded in 1790. It became a municipal institution in 1927, growing from 27 musicians to 73, making it today the fourth largest symphony orchestra in Finland. Regular conductors of the Turku Philharmonic orchestra have included Tauno Hannikainen, Toivo Haapanen, Ole Edgren, Jorma Panula, Paavo Rautio, Pertti Pekkanen, Igor Bezrodnyi and Jacques Mercier. Ralf Gothóni was appointed the new Principal Guest Conductor in 1995. The orchestra has toured throughout Europe and every year it takes part in an opera production in collaboration with the Turku City Theatre and the Turku Opera Society, in addition to taking part in the big opera gala concerts held at the Turku Hall. The orchestra has made a number of recordings, including Selim Palmgren's opera Daniel Hjort. In November 1995 the orchestra released its first recording for the Naxos label, Finnish Orchestral Favourites, making recording history in Finland by selling almost 40,000 copies in a year.

Jorma Panula
Jorma Panula began his career as a theatre conductor in Lahti, Tampere and Helsinki. He was the conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra from 1963 to 1965. Subsequently he conducted the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Arhus City Orchestra. Panula became the most influential figure in Finnish orchestral conductor-training with his appointment as Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy twenty years ago. He has also held chairs in conducting at the music academies of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Panula has also composed a wide variety of music; his best-known works are the operetta Ruma Elsa (Ugly Elsa) and the operas Jaakko Ilkka, Jokiooppera (River opera), Peltomiehen rukous (The Ploughman's Prayer, a church opera) and Lallija Pyhä Henrikki (Lalli and St Henrik).


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