5 discs for the price of 3
The final volume of the BIS Sibelius Edition is released almost exactly four years after the launch of the project in 2007. A main point of interest in this particular instalment – Miscellaneous Works – is the Masonic Ritual Music, Op.113 – here recorded for the first time with the original texts. Sibelius had become a freemason in 1922, soon after the foundation of the first modern Finnish lodge after the Russian ban on freemasonry in 1809. The music – set for tenor, male-voice choir and organ – was written in response to a request for ‘special, genuinely Finnish music for the lodge’, and for it Sibelius used Finnish texts, including translations from German, Swedish and Chinese. Although the main part of Op.113 was composed in 1927, Sibelius made additions and revisions over the years, and the present performance (which is based on the 1950 edition), thus includes two pieces from 1946 believed to be his last original compositions. Two of the movements in the Masonic Music are for solo organ, and Volume 13 also includes Sibelius remaining solo works for that instrument, such as the striking Surusoitto (‘Mournful Music’) which Sibelius wrote for the 1931 funeral of the painter Gallen-Kallela, a friend of long standing. There are also a number of fragments and sketches included here, for instance of a projected musical adaptation of H.C. Andersen’s tale The Little Mermaid for string quartet and recitation, and a set of brief piano pieces for children. Of particular interest is the more substantial orchestral fragment of a projected tone poem entitled Luonnotar. In 1906 Sibelius had a change of heart, and recomposed much of the material included in the fragment into a new piece, Pohjola’s Daughter. Rounding off the edition on Disc 3 of the four CDs included here is the composer himself, conducting his own Andante festivo in a recording made during a live radio broadcast in 1939. Also on that disc is a video file of the classic ‘Jean Sibelius at Home’ film based on documentary material filmed in 1927 and 1945. As an appendix, a fourth CD contains music by contemporaries, friends and pupils of Sibelius, including Ferruccio Busoni and Robert Kajanus. With this final instalment a separate booklet with the complete index to the recordings and works included in the entire edition is provided, as a key to the 80+ hours of music that form the lifework of Sibelius.