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James H. North
Fanfare, September 2020

Young Finnish lyric Johanna Lehesvuori nails it, managing every note, every turn with aplomb in a clear, sweet voice. Then come a bass recitative, a tenor recitative, and a Terzetto; tenor Tuomas Katajala and bass Niklas Spångberg are both excellent. The final chorus has moments that resemble nothing less than the Ninth Symphony. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2020

As a member of the court musicians, the nineteen-year-old Beethoven was commissioned to write two cantatas at the time of the death of Emperor Joseph II.

It was a formidable undertaking for one so young, but he responded with the first score in seven sections to words by Severin Anton Averdonk, a monk who lived in Bonn at much the same time as Beethoven. The work, in its entirety, extending to over forty-five minutes. In addition to a chorus and orchestra, it calls for a soprano and bass, and opens in suitable solemnity with the chorus singing ‘Death, groan it through the barren night!’ , the music returning in a finale the work alluding to the good things the Emperor Joseph achieved in his life with two arias for a solo bass, sung here with the resolute voice of Juha Kotilainen. While there is nothing revelatory, this was a step forward from Haydn and Mozart, and can be counted as Beethoven’s first major masterpiece and the forerunner of his opera, Fidelio. Though the full circumstances are not known—the orchestral parts said to be too difficult being one explanation—but the work was never performed in Beethoven’s lifetime. Joseph was succeeded by Leopold II, and using words from the same source, Beethoven welcomes him, though at first it does seem rather muted, the virtuoso coloratura soprano aria that follows changes the mood. The young soprano, Johanna Lehesvuori, revels in the challenge, while short sections involving tenor and bass conclude with a triumphant chorus as a precursor to the finale to the composer’s Ninth Symphony. Another excellent disc from the Turku Philharmonic and the Turku chorus in a well balanced 2018 recording. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

Ralph Graves
WTJU, February 2020

…Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra always make a great combination. This recording is no exception. This is not Beethoven’s greatest music, but the musicians are as invested in it as if it were. That’s also true of the soloists and the Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis.

This recording shows a somewhat unusual side of Beethoven—and provides an understanding of just how deep his talent ran. © 2020 WTJU Read complete review

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