Sibelius’s epic Kalevala


En saga


Johanna Rusanen (soprano)
Waltteri Torikka (baritone)
Polyteknikkojen Kuoro
BBC Symphony Chorus (men’s voices)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo (conductor)

Reviewed by:

Reviewed: 4 August, 2020

This evening, Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo pairs two of Sibelius’s most engagingly descriptive works as part of a Proms season that marked 150 years since the composer’s birth. The folk hero Kullervo was the inspiration behind a powerful national statement for a country struggling to overthrow Russian rule. This massive musical hybrid – part cantata, part symphony, part suite – is a vivid work, richly melodic but looking ahead to modernism in some striking musical gestures.

The opening work, En saga, is a fairy tale without a plot, whose contrasting movements suggest many possible stories, but never commit to just one. Sibelius began working on the piece in 1891, soon after returning from musical studies in Vienna and Berlin. It wasn’t until 1902, however, that he completed the version we know today.

Read Past Reviews on the Classical Source

(From the BBC Proms 2015, 29 August)

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