Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
July 2019

Since Paavo Berglund’s pioneering recording with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1971, more than a dozen conductors have offered interpretations of this early work: part symphony, part secular cantata, along the lines of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder or Mahler’s Song of Lamentation, and now accepted as integral to the canon. Dausgaard’s dramatic reading of the two vocal movements—the central Kullervo and His Sister, in which the Wagnerian hero unwittingly seduces his sibling, and the final Kullervo’s Death—has a radiant Helena Juntunen and a lyrical but not rugged Benjamin Appl as the lovers. The orchestral tableaus are no less enthralling, thanks to sharply contoured woodwind soloists, evoking a fin de siècle melting pot of Strauss, Mahler and Tchaikovsky, with hints of mature Sibelius to come. Thrilling.