LEIF SEGERSTAM (b.1944): Symphony No. 294 “Songs of a UNICORN heralding...”, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90.

Catalogue Number: 10U063

Label: Alba

Reference: ABCD 420

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: In general terms, we all know what to expect of a recent Segerstam symphony by now, but in particular, we absolutely don't because, despite the blithering of his uncomprehending detractors, each one of the 317 (to date) has its unique dramatic contour and personality. This is especially true of No. 294, which was written with a taxing concertante obbligato part for the co-principal horn of the Turku Philharmonic, Tanja Nisonen. Hence the title, "Songs of a UNICORN heralding..." (One solo horn = unicorn. Geddit?). Among admirers of Segerstam's profligate generosity with the fertile fruits of his prodigious imagination, this one could quickly become a favorite - it already has in these parts. From its lightning-strike opening to its fading-into-the-mists close, the work seems to chart some mythic saga on a grandly imposing scale, its heraldic fantastic beast proclaiming resonantly against a backdrop of cut-up and folded-in Sibelian gestures. The orchestration, as always, is rich and imaginative; the form free-pulsative in six contrasting sections; the flow inexorable and imposing. The Brahms is monumental, as expected, but the real revelation is the extraordinary attention to orchestral detail and balance, highlighting the Schumann tributes and the work's recurring motif with the skill of a master biographer or the author of an ingenious roman à clef as much as of a musical interpreter. Turku Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam.

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