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  • Sibelius: Lemminkainen Legends, Op. 22 / En Saga, Op. 9
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Sibelius: Lemminkainen Legends, Op. 22 / En Saga, Op. 9

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Audio CD, August 25, 1992
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Salonen
  • Composer: Sibelius
  • Audio CD (August 25, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000027U8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,601 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Lemminkainen Legends, Op.22: Lemminkainen And The Maidens Of Saari
2. Lemminkainen Legends, Op.22: Lemminkainen In Tuonela
3. Lemminkainen Legends, Op.22: The Swan Of Tuonela
4. Lemminkainen Legends, Op.22: Lemminkainen's Return
5. En Saga, Op. 9

Editorial Reviews

Esa-Pekka Salonen's performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic are rapidly coming to represent the last word in technical excellence. He has the orchestra playing at top form, and his own superbly musical and clear-sighted interpretations make this Sibelius disc something special. The music comprises all of his early tone poems, though the composer suppressed two of the Lemminkainen Legends (for no good reason) late in his life. En Saga features a central climax with thundering bass drum that will wreck your sound system if you're not careful. The performance is so exciting, however, that you may well find it worth the risk. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Presto Rubel on September 7, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I first encountered En Saga in the form of the soundtrack to the Japanese film The Seven Samurai. My father, a Chinese history professor, showed that film to his classes every year, and I was fascinated by it, and by the music used in the film.

It was twenty years later that I discovered that Sibelius' En Saga had been the basis of the music for the film. Since then, I have listened to and relished many versions.

Recently, our public radio station played En Saga, which isn't unusual. But my head instantly turned when I heard the build-up of the bass drums to the climaxes of certain phrases. The cymbals were also used with absolute perfection at those climaxes. I could picture the musician turning the cymbals toward the audience/microphones after they'd been played, to allow the full resonance to reverberate. I've played the cymbals myself. This musician was a master. The entire orchestra was masterful. The playing was clear, precise, and full of well-coordinated orchestra-wide nuances that were ideal to the piece.

I'm a classical pianist with experience in other instruments and in music teaching and directing. But more importantly, I know En Saga very well, through an appreciation that has lasted all my life. This is by far and away the best recording of it that I've ever heard. It leaves me in awe, and with total, profound appreciation. Get a copy now, while it's still in print. Listen to En Saga. Let it invigorate you, and inspire you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
When Esa-Pekka Salonen first stepped onto the public stage as a bright young conductor from Finland, almost everyone agreed that his specialty would always be the interpretation of his fellow countryman, Jean Sibelius. Now, many years later, Salonen is at the peak of the master conductors of today, having proved himself a master of Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Mahler, Bruckner, Debussy, Wagner, Lutoslawski, Haydn, Adams and all new music, et cetera. And so it is a welcome fact that he still also remains one of the great Sibelius conductors of our time.

This recording made in 1992 is one of his finest from that period, conducting his own Los Angeles Philharmonic with passion, clarity, and an obvious intense communication with his players. One this spaciously recorded CD we are given the Lemminkäinen Legends, Op.22 and the En Saga, Opus 9. For sheer power of orchestral sound it is difficult to imagine a more potent En Saga. But for the shimmering ecstasy of Sibelius' writing two of the excerpts from the Lemminkäinen Legends are unsurpassed: The Swan Of Tuonela and Lemminkäinen's Return. Finer interpretive stance and gorgeous orchestral playing would be difficult to find in the recording catalogue. It simply works wonders. Highly Recommended on every level. Grady Harp, March 06
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Jean Sibelius convinced the musical world for five decades (roughly until 1950) that he was a profound symphonist, almost on the level of Beethoven, and his idiom--rugged, primal, totally original--elevated Finnish culture to a nobel status. Now he's rather more constrained, all but forgottn in American concert halls beyond the Second and Fifth symphonies. You'd never guess it on CD, however, since finnish labels have recorded every scrap of his music even when it's decidedly minor.

If one masterpiece could be revived for sheer musical quality, I'd nominate the Four Legends, also known as the Legends of Lemminkainen. Only the Swan of Tuonela is well known as an excerpt, but all four legends are masterful. This CD from Salonen is the only one by a big-name international conductor since Barbirolli (unless ou ocunt Neeme Jarvi, who's more a CD phenomenon). It's very well played, meticulous in detail, but rather cool and aloof. The heroic side of the hero Lemminkainen is definitely underplayed. It's hard to find (unless you download it from Napster) but Vassily Sinaisky's account with the Moscow Phil. is blazingly exciting. It puts Salonen in the sahde. Even so, I'm grateful for this recording, which is filled out by a veyr good en Saga, a work that enjoys great performances from the likes of Toscanini, Bernstein, and Karajan.

P.S. 2013 - For anyone who wants to hear Salonen at his best in this music, there's an excellent sounding version on YouTube.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By SJR on June 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have a couple of Sibelius CD's with Salonen at the helm, and his interpretations of Sibelius' works are masterful. Lemminkainen's Return is particularly powerful. But it is in En Saga that Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic really shine. For my money, it is the definitive En Saga.
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