On March 25, 2022, Decca Classics will release Sibelius, Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä’s debut album, a complete cycle of Jean Sibelius’ symphonies, as well as the symphonic poem Tapiola and 3 Late Fragments. Mäkelä, who recently became the first conductor to sign with Decca since Riccardo Chailly, conducts the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, an orchestra with a deep and historic connection to the music of the Finnish composer.
The project began as a nine-month exploration of the Sibelius Symphonies to mark Mäkelä’s inaugural season with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra as conductor, but, with Covid cancellations, morphed into a completely immersive recording project. With the orchestral season disrupted, Mäkelä and the orchestra have spent much of the spring of 2021 playing only Sibelius music.
Says Mäkelä, “We played, played, played and then recorded. Sibelius’s music, like that of any composer, is a language you have to learn and the circumstances in which we recorded worked to our advantage.”
The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra has performed the music of Jean Sibelius for more than 100 years, with the composer himself conducting three concerts of his music in 1921. Mäkelä draws on the orchestra’s rich tradition of performing the symphonic works of Sibelius over the next century. It references the “darkness, power and force” of the ensemble’s string playing, drawing a connection to the Russian tradition instilled in the orchestra by former conductor Mariss Jansons.
Sibelius not only reinvented the structure and grammar of orchestral music at the turn of the 20th century, he was also the first composer to give the Nordic region its own musical language, distinct from the dominant German symphonic tradition at the time. . Alongside artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Sibelius became a cultural icon of the Finnish nationalist movement and performances of his works are inextricably linked to the distinguished line of conductors who grew up in Finland after the composer.
As a guest freelance cellist in the Helsinki Symphony Orchestras, Mäkelä experienced first-hand the Finnish tradition of Sibelius. “I have great admiration for those colleagues who have played cycles before me and I have learned valuable lessons from those with whom I have played”, says the conductor.
Mäkelä studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy with Jorma Panula and cello with Marko Ylönen, Timo Hanhinen and Hannu Kiiski. In addition to his work as conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, he is musical director of the Orchester de Paris and artistic director of the Turku Music Festival. As guest conductor, Mäkelä performs this season with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, the London Philharmonic, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Münchner Philharmoniker.
The release of the album will be followed in May and June by the Oslo Philharmonic’s first European tour with Mäkelä. In addition to full Sibelius Cycle residencies at the Konzerthaus Vienna and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, they will perform Mahler at the Philharmonie de Paris and join Norwegian soprano and fellow Decca artist Lise Davidsen on stage at the London Barbican.
Dominic Fyfe, Label Director of Decca Classics, says: “Klaus is only the third conductor to have signed exclusively with Decca Classics in its 93-year history, following Solti in 1948 and Chailly in 1978. a born conductor: confident, charismatic but also a musician’s musician. He has an authority without arrogance and a knowledge of music and sensitivity to the psychology of playing that has earned him the respect of orchestras around the world.
Sibelius was released on Decca Classics on March 25, 2022. For Mäkelä’s latest performance dates, visit https://klausmakela.com/schedule/.
Sibelius Track List (4 CDs)
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op.39
1. i. Andante, ma non troppo – Allegro energico
2. ii. Andante (ma non troppo lento)
3.iii. Scherzo: Allegro
4.iv. Ending: Quasi una fantasia (Andante – Allegro molto)
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op.43
5. i. Allegretto
6.ii. Tempo andante, my rubato
8.iv. Final: Allegro Moderato
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op.52
9 i. Moderate Allegro
10.ii. Andantino con moto, almost allegretto
11.iii. Moderato – Allegro (my non tanto)
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op.63
12. i. Tempo molto moderato, almost adagio
13.ii. Allegro molto perennial
14.iii. It tempo largo
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op.82
16. i. Tempo molto moderato – Allegro moderato – Presto
17.ii. Andante mosso, almost allegretto
18.iii. Allegro molto – A loose Pochettino
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op.104
19. i. Allegro molto moderate
20. ii. Moderate Allegretto
21.iii. perennial poco
22.iv. Allegro molto
Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op.105
23. i. Adagio
24.ii. Vivaccissimo – Adagio
25.iii. Allegro molto moderate
26.iv. Perennial – Presto – Adagio
27. Jean Sibelius – Tapiola, Op.112
Jean Sibelius – 3 late fragments
28. i. HUL 1325
29. ii. HUL 1326/9
30.iii. Moderate Allegro, HUL 1327/2
Spring 2022 US Tour Dates
April 14-15, 2022
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (debut)
April 21, 22, 23, 2022
April 28-29, 2022
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (debut)