Jean Sibelius’ piano trios were important to him personally. He wrote them in his youth, during the summers he spent vacationing with his brothers and sisters on various islands in Houtskär, the Finnish archipelago off the southwest coast of Finland. Sibelius loved these islands, and the three trios we include in this recording were eventually named after two of his favorite islands, as well as the coastal town of Lovisa, where his Aunt Evelina had a house.1 Given their natural talents, the young Sibelius siblings formed a trio. Janne2 played the violin, his sister Linda played the piano, and his brother Christian played the cello. Given the family musicians at hand, it was natural for Sibelius to write piano trios for their mutual enjoyment.
The young Sibelius wrote his Havträsk Trio in A Minor (JS 207) during the summer of 1886, during his first vacation after beginning his studies in music composition. It feels like we hear everything Sibelius learned in class, experimenting as he was, but now not under his teacher’s watchful eye! Movement one begins bombastically, balanced by the three lighter movements which follow. The Andantino second movement gives voice to some of Sibelius’ most beautiful melodies, followed by the whimsical and virtuosic Scherzo third movement which reminds me a little of Mendelssohn. Sibelius finished the piece with a simple melody which culminates into a surprisingly passionate dance.
Total time: 01:01:17
Power cords for our most sensitive analog equipment were made for us personally by Gary Koh from Genesis Advanced Technologies. Digital components used power cords from Aural Symphonics
Merging Technologies (Hapi for stereo and SonoruS Holographic Imaging, and Horus for 5.0 Surround Sound) and Merging Technologies Pyramix software
AKG C-24 for stereo, and 2 additional Schoeps M222 mics for SonoruS Holographic Imaging mixes. Four DPA 4006A mics and one 4041 mic for 5.0 Surround Sound.
We recorded the stereo version of both volumes of Sibelius Piano Trio using an AKG C-24 stereo microphone from Ancona Audio, with a special new-old-stock RCA 6072 vacuum tube in it supplied and calibrated by David Bock, Yarlung’s microphone technician. We chose an Elliot Midwood vacuum tube microphone preamplifier and fed the signal into our Merging Technologies Hapi converter to record DSD256 using Pyramix Software
Our friend NativeDSD mastering engineer Tom Caulfield came from Boston to record The Sibelius Piano Trio in 5 channel surround sound using four DPA 4006A microphones, and one 4041 microphone in the center. Tom built a carbon fiber array to hold the microphones which takes inspiration from a standard Decca Tree with three forward microphones and two additional surround microphones about twelve feet to the rear. Tom fed these microphones directly into his Merging Technologies Horus converter to record in 256DSD.
Using our two principal microphones from the String Quartet and song cycle, and adding two additional mid-hall Schoeps M222 vacuum tube microphones, Arian Jansen fed into the SonoruS Holographic Imaging processor to create a 2 channel mix that uses a proprietary matrix incorporating phase, timing and EQ information from the four microphones to reproduce a three-dimensional listening experience from two speakers. Arian captured this Holographic Imaging version using his SonoruS ATR12 analog tape recorder using EMTEC 528 broadcast tape which we then converted from the analog tape using the Merging Technologies Hapi converter at DSD256fs.
|Original Recording Format|
Bob Attiyeh and Arian Jansen, stereo; Tom Caulfield, 5.0 Surround Sound
Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa California
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
formats were monitored on speakers from Genesis Advanced Technologies.
|Release Date||December 22, 2016|
The Absolute Sound
“The stunningly realistic sound quality of Yarlung’s releases is a testament to the team’s dedication to capturing the musical intent of the artists. Moreover, Yarlung’s unusual technique of recording movements in their entirety produces a much more natural musical flow than the typical method of editing together multiple takes. The musicians, however, must be world-class performers and extremely well-prepared.”
The Absolute Sound
“Though renowned for his symphonic works, Sibelius wrote a lot of chamber music too, much of it in his early career, that remains little known. This includes several piano trios from the 1880s that the young composer (an accomplished violinist) wrote to play with his brother and sister. They sound nothing like his mature masterpieces but are nevertheless charming, expertly made, and brimming over with dandy tunes, inventive but always idiomatic and transparent instrumental textures, and a youthful, high-spirited delight in music-making.
Korppoo Trio is the most ambitious and expansive of the three Sibelius trios on Yarlung’s program, coming in at 26 minutes, its fluent, melodic opening allegro interrupted on occasion by stabbing, rather Beethovenian assertions and even a clean-lined fugato at one point, though the overall form is classic in outline and clear as a bell. The second movement unfolds elaborate episodes that delve into Romantic pathos and fantasy, with striking use of high birdcalls and glassy harmonics in the violin (presumably to show off the young composer-violinist’s prowess on his instrument). A vivace rondo finale dances gaily along, bringing the trio to an exhilarating conclusion. Hafträsk Trio is warmer, more relaxed, and closer to Grieg, while the concise Lovisa Trio puts two light-hearted and celebratory allegros around a more emotive andante. All three works, especially as played con amore here by the superb Sibelius Piano Trio, will be immediately appealing to any lover of chamber music, as they most certainly are to yours truly.
The Sibelius Trio plays with absolute technical security and impeccable tonal polish, traversing this large expanse of musical territory without missing a step. Yarlung’s recording, is, as usual, the epitome of sonic realism.”
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