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Paul Kennedy
Audiophile Audition, May 2016

The conductor on this disc is the larger-than-life Leif Segerstam. …The performance and sound on this disc are outstanding, done in Turku’s Concert Hall in January 2014.

I recommend this album highly as providing another important facet through which to explore and enjoy the music of Jean Sibelius. © 2016 Audiophile Audition Read complete review



George Dorris
Ballet Review, March 2016

SIBELIUS, J.: Belshazzar’s Feast / Overture in E Major / Scène de ballet / Cortège / Menuetto (Pajala, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573300
SIBELIUS, J.: Pelleas and Melisande / Musik zu einer Szene / Autrefois / Valse Chevaleresque (Pajala, Nordqvist, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573301
SIBELIUS, J.: Swanwhite / The Lizard / A Lonely Ski Trail / The Countess’s Portrait (Eklundh, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573341

Originally written for small forces, these theater scores are played here by a full orchestra, making clearer the music’s ties with the symphonies and tone poems written around the same time. …And all are very well played and recorded under the sure hand of the composer-conductor Leif Segerstam with his excellent orchestra from Turku, in the southwest of Finland, and the soprano Pia Pajala. © 2016 Ballet Review



Charles T. Downey
Ionarts, December 2015

The best numbers are early in the score, especially a lovely flute solo with delectable harmony in the prelude (“Nocturno”) for Act II, as Leschanah listens to the royal palace at night, seduced by the king’s power. © 2015 Ionarts Read complete review



Michael Scott Rohan
BBC Music Magazine, October 2015

Performance:
Recording:

Segerstam has become one of the very finest Sibelius conductors, and his Turku orchestra rightly plays as if these were all major works, making this highly recommendable. © 2015 BBC Music Magazine



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, September 2015

SIBELIUS, J.: Kuolema / King Kristian II / Overture in A Minor (Pajala, Torikka, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573299
SIBELIUS, J.: Belshazzar’s Feast / Overture in E Major / Scène de ballet / Cortège / Menuetto (Pajala, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573300
SIBELIUS, J.: Pelleas and Melisande / Musik zu einer Szene / Autrefois / Valse Chevaleresque (Pajala, Nordqvist, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573301

The playing of the Turku orchestra is immaculate throughout, and the recorded acoustic is superb. Even those Sibelians who have already acquired [other] versions will find something in these Naxos readings to be of interest, and those who are unfamiliar with the music in its original form will enjoy the process of exploration at budget price.

…an experience to relish. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, September 2015

…the performances are just about as good as it gets. Segerstam plays all of the music with evident care and invests it with plenty of character. Pia Pajala is the attractive soprano soloist in her single song, and the engineering is rich, warm, and atmospheric. Worth your time and attention, no doubt about it. © 2015 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, September 2015

A genuinely rewarding achievement… © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, August 2015

…less-known miscellaneous works…very respectably performed…by Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, August 2015

All of this music has been recorded before, but this new disk is a splendid collection superbly played by the Turku Philharmonic under Leif Segerstam’s firm direction. Excellent audio… © 2015 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, August 2015

The performances are fabulous. Segerstam really revels in the gorgeous melodic lines when they appear in almost luxurious fashion. It helps add an emotional pull to the music throughout. If one is looking for a little of the lesser-known Sibelius then, this release is probably a good place to start, but Sibelius fans will want the previous release as well! © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review




James Manheim
AllMusic.com, August 2015

The marquee item, the music for Belshazzar’s Feast, a play based on the biblical Book of Daniel, is here presented complete, not in the suite that has been occasionally recorded. The rest of the music is a real miscellany, and lo, there is music here that conductors and orchestras should get to know better. Segerstam is an ideal Sibelius conductor, flexible and alert to the boundary between interior and formal, and Naxos scores with the engineering from the small Turku Concert Hall. A must-have release for Sibelius lovers, and an unexpected pleasure for anybody. © 2015 Allmusic.com Read complete review



Infodad.com, July 2015

Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra perform [the Overture in E and Scène de Ballet] with strength and grandeur, and…they are well-constructed and emotionally trenchant pieces on their own. Processional is…an intriguing if not exceptionally noteworthy piece that will likely make listeners hope that Segerstam will venture further into the composer’s late and infrequently performed compositions. © 2015 Infodad.com Read complete review



John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, July 2015

SIBELIUS, J.: Kuolema / King Kristian II / Overture in A Minor (Pajala, Torikka, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573299
SIBELIUS, J.: Belshazzar's Feast / Overture in E Major / Scéne de ballet / Cortège / Menuetto (Pajala, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam) 8.573300

Naxos should be congratulated for bringing these recordings into the Sibelius discography. The Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam is a master of this repertoire and he draws some wonderful sounds from the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. They really excel in the hushed, poignant and delicate passages and Segerstam also generates plenty of power and excitement when required. The sound quality is excellent on both discs… © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2015

The second in a pair of discs containing Sibelius’s theatre music in such superb performances that we now need to have so much more from Leif Segerstam. By the time of writing Belshazzar’s Feast in 1906, Sibelius had established himself as Finland’s leading composer, a fact made evident in the imaginative scoring that relates the story of the King of Babylon and the Jewish woman who is sent to assassinate him. It includes a beautiful soprano aria, Song of the Jewish Girl, and two explicit dances, the first relating to the love of life, and the second to the darkness of death, the two then being reused in a modified form to take the action through to its conclusion with Belshazzar’s murder. There is a taste of the orient, but it essentially a score of subtle colours, and maybe its quintessential quietness has left it as one of the composer’s lesser-known scores. Having enjoyed success with his incidental music to Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II, the writer asked him to contribute to Die Sprach der Vogel (The Language of the Birds), Sibelius obliging with a charming Wedding March. Actors, dressed in the costumes of characters from many of Kaarlo Bergbom’s famous productions at the Finnish National Theatre, took part in his retirement concert in 1905, processing to the vivacious Cortege. Processional appeared in 1938, apparently derived from music written for his Masonic Lodge, while the Menuetto had three incarnations, eventually appearing in abbreviated form as part of King Christian II. Completing the disc the Overture and Scene de Ballet—both composed in 1891—were apparently intended as the first two movements of a symphony. Quaint idea, but they make pleasant listening. Sibelius’s music seems bred into the Turku Philharmonic and their inspired conductor, Leif Segerstam, the recording team doing a splendid job to complete a super release. © 2015 David’s Review Corner




Geoffrey Norris
Daily Telegraph (UK), June 2015

[The] major ingredient of the disc is the incidental music that Sibelius wrote in 1906 for the play “Belshazzar’s Feast”[ …] Segerstam here conducts all 10 numbers, which include the familiar opening oriental march, “Khadra’s Dance” and “Song of the Jewish Girl” (here sung seductively by the soprano Pia Pajala), but also establish a narrative context with certain reminiscences of previously heard material and with other short numbers that enhance the drama’s atmosphere. © 2015 Daily Telegraph (UK) Read complete review





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