SVÄNG: Sväng Plays Sibelius
Sibelius: Karelia-suite, Andante festivo, Venematka, Souda souda sinisorsa, Impromptu, Valse triste, Lemminkäisen kotiinpaluu, Jääkärien marssi
Jumi-tuotanto Oy JUMI009
Sväng, the Finnish harmonica quartet, blows fresh air to Sibelius celebrations with arrangements of composer’s well-known works.
To start with, harmonica is a great rhythm instrument. No wonder, then, that works and movements with fast tempi like Alla marcia from Karelia Suite or Jääkärien marssi (with ironic cannon effects) work really well. Considering pitch and tuning, harmonica, especially its chromatic version, isn’t clearly the easiest thing on Earth to play. This is evident in the recurrent intonation problems in compositions that are abundant in longer tones (e.g. Andante festivo). On the other hand, this is just essential to the harmonica sound and not actually a big deal; consider it musicians’ presence and ‘liveness’.
The most courageous effort on and a high point of the recording is undoubtedly the arrangement of Lemminkäinen’s Homecoming from Sibelius’s orchestral work Lemminkäinen. Not often Lemminkäinen rides with this kind of energy! If Sibelius’ music needs new audiences, this defensible release really might manage to find some.
On 8 December Sväng plays in the Jean Sibelius’s Birthday Concert at the Sibelius Hall, Lahti, in collaboration with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Jaakko Kuusisto as conductor.