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Martin Anderson
Fanfare, November 2019

The complete film score, from 1919, to Mauritz Stiller’s Song of the Scarlet Flower, by Sibelius’s brother-in-law, Armas Järnefelt, presented in effect a series of very loosely constructed symphonic poems blending Sibelian nature-painting and reworkings of folk tunes—imagine a Finnish version of Alfvén’s Swedish Rhapsodies, but 100 minutes’ worth, on two CDs, and with Järnefelt’s imagination running at a particularly high degree of inspiration. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, July 2019

Järnefelt’s superb score gets a long overdue revival here thanks to the efforts of Maestro Kuusisto and the Gävle Symphony Orchestra (GSO). They play with total commitment, as well as an attention to structural detail, phrasing and dynamics that preclude this music from becoming a sentimental, cinematic wallow.

The recording was made a year ago at the GSO’s home Concert Hall in Gävle, Sweden, 100 miles north of Stockholm. It presents a broad soundstage in warm, reverberant surroundings, and the solo instruments are perfectly highlighted. The overall orchestral timbre is characterized by pleasant highs, a totally convincing midrange and low clean bass. All romantic music lovers will want this stirring symphonic suite, which will should also meet with the approval of any audiophiles among them. © 2019 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, July 2019

The music is ever melodic and excellently scored; its general musical language recalls Alfven’s Swedish Rhapsodies. The recording has good natural sound, and Kuusisto never lets his tempos drag. I’ve previously (M/A 2011) praised the merits of the Gavle Symphony. Its 52 players sound like double that number. The playing here from both the orchestra and the soloists in some sequences is first-rate. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Arthur Lintgen
Fanfare, July 2019

For the present recording, the score was “augmented and restored” by using orchestral parts from the original performance as source material by Jani Kyllönen and conductor Jaakko Kuusisto. The music’s conservative, Romantic style would fit well into a Golden Age score. … The highlights of the score are the quietly beautiful clarinet and violin solos over hushed strings in chapter five, entitled “Kyllikki” (the hero’s girl friend). Chapter six (“In the Town”) contains the key dramatic elements in the plot and orchestration…

The program notes describing the film and its music are suitably informative. Ondine’s sound is excellent, and the orchestral performance appears to be totally committed. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

BBC Music Magazine, April 2019

This resplendent recording by Jaako Kuusisto and the Gävle Symphony Orchestra is a faithful restoration of the work © 2019 BBC Music Magazine

Cinemusical, March 2019

The performances are excellent with a good sense of the sort of nationalistic qualities necessary coupled with a good command of the post-Wagnerian musical style that informs Jarnefelt’s work here. The late-romantic style of the music makes this a rather interesting score to hear. The ensemble is slightly larger than a normal theater orchestra of the time which helps with its thicker textural moments. All around, this is a significant release for Nordic cineastes. © 2019 Cinemusical Read complete review

Andrew Mellor
Gramophone, March 2019

Accordion, piano and harmonium add atmosphere at strategic points and there are numerous evocative solos, all beautifully played by members of a perky, reactive and highly engaged Gävle Symphony Orchestra. © 2019 Gramophone

Uwe Krusch
Pizzicato, February 2019

In his score for a 1919 film featuring sort of a Nordic Don Juan story, Armas Järnefelt wrote an attractive music, soaked with Finnish folk tunes. The reconstruction of the full score is now available on two discs, outstandingly performed by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jaakko Kuusisto. © 2019 Pizzicato

Records International, February 2019

In 1919, Finnish-born film director Mauritz Stiller approached Armas Järnefelt and commissioned him to write an orchestral score for his silent film based on a novel by Finnish author Johannes Linnankoski. Järnefelt made a great effort for the project and produced a large 100-minute orchestral score. The work can be considered as his final orchestral masterpiece and a pioneer work in film music. The film was a huge hit and went on to be screened in more than 40 countries in addition to Sweden. It was also the first ever Nordic feature-length film to have a full-length original score written for it. Järnefelt’s score was lost for a long time, although he did conduct a recording of extracts from the score in 1931. In the 1980s the original score was rediscovered among the possessions of the composer’s relatives. The film and score are in six chapters: “The First Flush of Spring”, “The Mother’s Glance”, “Learning Life”, “A Young Man’s Derring-do”, “Kyllikki”, “In the Town” and “The Pilgrimage”. © 2019 Records International

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, January 2019

It’s beautifully performed here, the score having been restored by Jani Kyllönen and conductor Jaako Kuusisto and first performed in March 2017 at the Oulu Music Festival. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2019

Armas Jarnefelt was invited to write an orchestral score for the 1919 silent film that became one of the most acclaimed Finnish dramas to appear on the silver screen. It was the story of a later-day Don Juan who sets out with loggers on their nomadic life, breaking the hearts of young women along the way, leaving one of his conquests having to live the life of a prostitute. Eventually the young man reaches maturity and marries the girl he always loved. The film is set in seven ‘acts’ with the music depicting the various episodes of his travels. At the time Armas Jarnefelt was one of Sweden’s most highly respected composers, the music becoming uncoupled from the film as it was screened in more than forty countries. He was considered highly desirable for the project having also become a noted conductor of opera, and he equally understood that the music would have to appeal to a wide public. The result was an ‘easy-to-listen-to’ score lasting around an hour and twenty minutes, its content using folk-inspired melodies, and avoids any of the usual classical music cliches. It is now restored for the use of a symphony orchestra, with the conductor of this disc, Jaakko Kuusisto, playing a major role in that process. Can it stand apart and without the film action? That I must leave to you, but I can add that the playing of the Gavle Symphony does all it can for our enjoyment, and it has Ondine’s excellent sound engineering. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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