10/10/10 Klassik-Heute.de; Disc of the Year 2010', YLE
"Time, once again, to hail yet another obscenely talented young musician from Finland." MusicWeb International; "Convence la mera escucha de la ópera ... con una música fresca, ecléctica ... al servicio de una acción concisa y bien dibujada." Scherzo; "Döbeln has me searching for recordings of other works by this composer, and looking forward to the next opera. May it come soon." Fanfare
Born in 1972 Sebastian Fagerlund has rapidly emerged as one of the most interesting Finnish composers of his generation. At the core of his style is a richly sonorous, swiftly flowing idiom that is multi-layered in texture but avoids modernism's severity of tone. His rhythms are rich, sometimes clearly motoric, sometimes capriciously syncopated and more freely shaped. To counterbalance the rapid currents and rhythmic vivacity there are delicate, lyrically emotional passages. His music has often been tinged with a feeling of drama even when the forces are purely instrumental, and the move to opera, for the first time here in Döbeln, is thus completely natural. The main character of the opera is a historic figure, the Swedish General Georg Carl von Döbeln, a hero of the 1808-09 war over Finland between Russia and Sweden. The plot incorporates actual events during the war, but mixes them with fantasies and hallucinations in a many-faceted emotional mosaic. As the composer writes in his own liner notes: 'When I began to plan this work, the idea of a grand, epic and heroic war opera felt unnatural to me. I wanted to discover a story - and a way of realizing it - where drama could be combined with humour, without losing track of the serious subject: war and its effects on man.' The libretto by Finnish writer Jusa Peltoniemi is partly in Swedish and partly in Finnish, and includes eleven characters, ranging from a hospital orderly to the King of Sweden. These roles are distributed among five singers, supported by fifteen instrumentalists: piano, string quintet, seven wind-players and percussionists. With these limited forces, Fagerlund conjures up a sound-scape which is rich in colour, variation and emotional intensity. The direction is in the highly competent hands of Sakari Oramo, conducting a cast of leading Finnish singers from the West Coast Kokkola Opera. The comprehensive booklet includes the full Swedish/Finnish libretto with a parallel English translation, as well as a presentation of the composer and his work in four languages: English, Finnish, German and French. Packaged in a cardboard slipcase, this title also includes a full colour leaflet with photographs from the first performance, which took place in 2009.