Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä’s debut album Sibelius, featuring the complete cycle of Jean Sibelius’ symphonies, the tone poem Tapiola and 3 Late Fragments, will be released on 25 March 2022. Mäkelä directs the Oslo Philharmonic, an orchestra with a deep, historic connection to the music of the Finnish composer.
The project began as a nine-month exploration of the Sibelius symphonies, to mark Klaus Mäkelä’s inaugural season with the Oslo Philharmonic as Chief Conductor, but turned into a completely immersive recording project as Covid cancellations disrupted the orchestral season.
Klaus Mäkelä said, “‘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 under which we recorded actually played to our advantage.”
The Oslo Philharmonic has been performing the music of Jean Sibelius for over 100 years, with the composer himself conducting three concerts of his music in 1921. Klaus Mäkelä taps into the orchestra’s rich tradition of interpreting Sibelius’s symphonic works in the following century.
“Everything about Sibelius is original”
“Everything about Sibelius is original,” observed Klaus Mäkelä. “He could make an entire symphony sound like one gesture, one breath …”
Sibelius was the first composer to give the Nordic region its own musical language, distinct from the dominant German symphonic tradition at the time, and he became a cultural icon in the Finnish Nationalist movement.
Klaus Mäkelä recently became the first conductor to sign to Decca since Riccardo Chailly. In addition to his work as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, he is Music Director of the Orchestra de Paris and Artistic Director of the Turku Music Festival.
“He is a born conductor”
Dominic Fyfe, Label Director of Decca Classics, said, “Klaus is only the third conductor to have signed exclusively to Decca Classics in its ninety-three year history, following Solti in 1948 and Chailly in 1978. He is a born conductor: confident, charismatic but also a musician’s musician. He has authority without arrogance and a knowledge of the music and sensitivity to the psychology of playing which has won him the respect of orchestras worldwide.”
“Under Klaus Mäkelä’s baton, Sibelius’ mysticism of nature appeared more adventurous than I have heard before,” noted NRK Radio.
The release of Klaus Mäkelä’s debut album Sibelius will be followed by his first European tour with the Oslo Philharmonic in May and June. In addition to complete Sibelius cycle residencies at the Vienna Konzerthaus and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, they will perform Mahler at the Paris Philharmonie and join Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, on stage at the Barbican in London.
Sibelius will be released on 25 March 2022 and can be pre-ordered here.