ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
LEEVI MADETOJA - Symphonies 1 and 3


LEEVI MADETOJA - Symphonies 1 and 3 - Okon Fuoko Suite - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra - John Storgards (Conductor) - 0761195121122 - Released: January 2014 - Ondine ODE1211-2

Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947) was a Finnish composer, therefore comparisons of his music with that of Jean Sibelius are obviously noticeable, and made even more apparent when you consider that he actually studied with Sibelius for two years. Add a bit of Lars-Erik Larsson (another Nordic composer) to the mix and you get a better picture of Madetoja's sound. The writing is clear, concise, and bereft of exaggeration or gratuitous aggrandizement. Each note serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things. His music is not led by melody, but rather flows freely and leads to melodic outbursts of refined beauty. The Symphony No. 1 in F Major, Op. 29 is full of such moments and ends with a triumphant march episode that, through its humility, creates even more of an impact. The slow movements of both symphonies reveal Madetoja's lyrical and narrative talents, as they evoke strong imagery of wide open landscapes, with lone wind instruments cast upon wafting strings. This is music that has much to say but doesn't beat you over the head with it. If you like Sibelius, Nielsen, Grieg, Larsson etc ... you will fully appreciate the music of Leevi Madetoja.

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest symphony orchestra of the Scandanavian countries, and has premièred many major works by Sibelius, with the composer himself at the baton. This Nordic sound and style is in their blood and it comes across loud and clear in this new recording. In collaboration with conductor John Storgards and the Ondine label, they've released definitive recordings over the years, many of which have been awarded marks of distinction and critical recognition. Look north and broaden your musical horizons.

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2014