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Sibelius - Lemminkäinen Suite



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Sibelius: Lemminkäinen Suite - Salonen/RCO(2007Live)

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Lemminkäinen Suite op.22
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 16 3/2007

The Lemminkäinen Suite (Four Legends from the Kalevala), Op. 22 was written in 1893

The Lemminkäinen Suite  was originally conceived as a mythological opera, Veneen luominen (The Building of the Boat), on a scale matching those by Richard Wagner, Sibelius later changed his musical goals and the work became an orchestral piece in four movements. The suite is based on the character Lemminkäinen from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. The piece can also be considered a collection of symphonic poems.

  • Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of the Island: this is based on Runo 29 ("Conquests") of the Kalevala, where Lemminkäinen travels to an island and seduces many of the women there, before fleeing the rage of the men on the island.
  • The Swan of Tuonela: [see separate observation] this is the most popular of the four tone poems. Lemminkäinen has been tasked with killing the sacred swan, but on the way he is shot with a poisoned arrow, and dies himself.
  • Lemminkäinen in Tuonela: this is based on Runos 14 ("Elk, horse, swan") and 15 ("Resurrection"). Lemminkäinen is in Tuonela, the land of the dead, to shoot the Swan of Tuonela to be able to claim the daughter of Louhi, mistress of the Northland, in marriage. However, the blind man of the Northland kills Lemminkäinen, whose body is then tossed in the river and then dismembered. Lemminkäinen's mother learns of his death, travels to Tuonela, recovers his body parts, reassembles him and restores him to life.
  • Lemminkäinen's Return: the storyline in the score roughly parallels the end of Runo 30 ("Jack Frost"), where after his adventures in battle, Lemminkäinen journeys home.

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