The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is best known by classical music listeners for his orchestral works, including several symphonies and the famous tone poem “Finlandia.” But Sibelius’s vast output also includes nearly 100 songs.
Sibelius: In the Stream of Life is a groundbreaking new collection of Sibelius’s songs, performed by bass-baritone Gerald Finley and the Bergen Philharmonic. Although originally written for piano accompaniment, each of the album’s 14 songs have been transcribed for voice and orchestra. Three of the selections were orchestrated by Sibelius himself; the other orchestrations were completed by Finnish composers such as Jussi Jalas and Pekka Helasvuo.
The album is named for In the Stream of Life, a collection of seven Sibelius songs around which the entire album is arranged. The Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara chose seven Sibelius songs, orchestrated them and created a new cycle especially for the bass-baritone Gerald Finley to perform. Rautavaara died in July 2016, just weeks before the recording session for this album commenced. Finley has said that “In the Stream of Life” is a tribute to his composer friend.
The album also includes two of Sibelius’s orchestral tone poems, “Pohjola’s Daughter” and “The Oceanides,” as well as the op. 42 Romance for string orchestra.