At a mere five minutes, Arvo Pärt's Summa is actually the shortest composition on this CD. But, for its sheer, austere beauty, the work makes a fitting introduction to this orchestral disc. Pärt's trademark "tintinnabulation" style is in full effect on this sublime recording. Each of these works sounds simple and minimalist, yet also achingly profound. In Pärt's Symphony No. 3 (the earliest piece here, dating from 1971), the roots of his groundbreaking technique are just beginning to take shape: the ringing of bells, the calculated tension, and the hints of early music all add to the three-movement work's drama.
Sibelius's choral music is deeply felt, nationalistic, and stirring. Subject matter ranges from the glory of the Northern lights (in "Oma maa" [Our Native Land]) to the Swedish-language "Sandels," in which a general, seemingly a coward, leads his men to victory through patience and odd timing, to the glories of the Earth ("Maan virsi"), to tales of characters from Finnish folklore. Most are for male choir, a couple are for mixed choir, and all are acompanied by large orchestra. Sibelius's ablity to tell a story is remarkable (it makes one wish he'd been more interested in opera), and desite the similarity in the forces used, the effects here are varied, from rousing to elegaic, to simply entertaining.
The Complete Works for Orchestra by M. K. Čiurlionis - amazing, unique, immensely talented Lithuanian musician and painter.
The recordings by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra of works by Villa-Lobos, Camargo Guarnieri and other Brazilian composers have demonstrated the variety of their national music and the multi-faceted nature of Brazilian dance. Alexandre Levy’s Samba and Alberto Nepomuceno’s Batuque are early examples of a Brazilian art music which draws heavily on the dance rhythms of popular music.
Ilkka Kuusisto began his career as a jazz pianist at the age of 15, and has since been active in a number of fields, including the theatre, as an organist, a choral conductor and as chief executive of the Finnish National Opera. As a composer he is highly eclectic. Having composed several operas, Kuusisto was invited by the conductor Osmo Vänskä to write a symphony for the Lahti Symphony Orchestra – a work which opens this disc.