David Nice
BBC Music Magazine
September 2019

Young Sibelius's unhappy hero, once rarely heard, is now all the rage … Thomas Dausgaard, who's carried on the Runnicles legacy with the excellent BBC orchestra in Scotland, stakes an equally individual claim. Every unorthodox texture, ostinato and accompaniment makes its mark; the Brucknerian discontinuities are relished as musical theatre, with silences tense and dramatic. Even the battle movement, which can sometimes seem the most conventional, has stunning beauties of sonority like high violins and woodwind with only horn as bass.

It's good to have a focused youthful chorus, in the shape of men from Sweden's Lund University, rather than the usual wall of sound. Like Helena Juntunen and Benjamin Appl, they put across the tense drama of Kullervo's unhappy meeting and sexual union with a woman he only finds out afterwards is his sister. Kullervo's lament perhaps needs a Heldenbariton, but that's the only slight anomaly in the entire performance, artfully balanced so that everything sounds good in Glasgow's gorgeous City Halls. Kullervo may not have triumphed, but the Scots and their Danish chief conductor absolutely do here.