Recording of the Month, MusicWeb-International.com: “Musical and sonic nirvana, this; prepare to be overwhelmed.”
Ainola, the house that Jean Sibelius built in 1904 and lived in until his death in 1957, has become legendary among lovers of Nordic music. It is said that Sibelius composed more than 300 works there, and it was in the fireplace of Ainola that he is thought to have burnt the manuscript of his Eighth Symphony, before falling almost completely silent as a composer. The house is now a museum, and receives tens of thousands of visitors every summer – many of them from abroad. It has remained largely unchanged since Sibelius and his family lived in it, and among the museum’s most treasured objects is the Steinway grand piano that Sibelius was presented with on his fiftieth birthday, in 1915. It is on this instrument, Sibelius’s trusted companion for more than 40 years, that Folke Gräsbeck has recorded this tribute to the composer on his 150th anniversary. A recognized authority on the piano music of Sibelius, Gräsbeck has put together a rich and varied selection that spans the composer’s entire career and includes rarities as well as some of his most popular original piano compositions alongside his transcriptions of orchestral favourites such as Finlandia and Valse triste.