Sibelius, Kullervo (op. 7), S. Isokoski, T. Hakala, YL Male Voice Choir, Helsinki Philharmonic, L. Segerstam
(released May 13, 2008)
Ondine ODE 1122-5 | 77'56"
Akseli Gallen-Kallela [Axél Gallén], Kullervo Curses Himself
Two of the five movements have vocal parts set to texts from Kalevala. In the third movement (Kullervo and His Sister), the pulsing tinkle of the triangle and the constant, rattling tempo (Allegro vivace, in jarring 5/4 meter) evoke Kullervo's voyage by sled. He sets out to pay the taxes, to pay the land-dues, and ends up raping his sister, whom he seduces with his gold and other wealth. By far the longest movement, this piece has a certain amount of repetition, in keeping with the repetition of epic poetry, with some more dissonant music during the rape and for Kullervo's despairing final soliloquy.
The first movement, Introduction, seems like a murky evocation of the mythic landscape of Finland. Although other symphonic models are referenced, the adaptation of folk melodies from western and eastern (Karelia) Finland make the work unmistakably Finnish. The mood is expansive and often bleak. The second movement, depicting Kullervo's tragic youth as an outcast and slave, has a slowly pulsing steadiness to it, interrupted periodically by repeated-note outcries from the full orchestra. Kullervo, believing he is marked for death by his crime, goes to war in the short march-like fourth movement, to kill the uncle who murdered his parents.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela [Axél Gallén], Kullervo Goes to War
If you like the images by Akseli Gallen-Kallela [Axél Gallén], see his other paintings from Kalevala.