Armas Järnefelt (1869-1958) was a member of a family which made a profound mark on Finnish culture. One of his brothers was a painter, and another an author - and their sister Aino married Sibelius. For Armas, whose chosen field was music, the close proximity of Sibelius must have been quite overpowering - in old age he himself spoke of the stifling influence of Sibelius's unique genius. Maybe this is one reason why Järnefelt's most ambitious compositions were written in relatively close succession in the 1890s, just around the time when Sibelius had his first great break-through, and also why he soon changed direction and became a conductor first and foremost. Completed in the spring of 1893, Järnefelt's Serenade was composed in Paris, and the French influence - especially that of his teacher Massenet - can be clearly heard. Its six movements encompass a wide variety of moods, with many instrumental solos adding touches of colour, for instance in the emotionally charged Adagio for violin and strings. Two year's later, in the Symphonic Fantasy, composed after a momentous visit to Bayreuth, the influences are rather Wagnerian, and especially obvious in the central slow section with its clear reminiscences of Parsifal. The programme closes with Berceuse for violin and orchestra, which in 1904 marked the end of Järnefelt's most active period as a composer for orchestra. The piece is a beautifully atmospheric miniature which has found a place in concerts of lighter music all over the world. Conducting his compatriot's music - as well as performing the violin solos - is Jaakko Kuusisto, well-known to a wider audience for his recordings as a violinist of music by Sibelius, Rautavaara and Kalevi Aho. He stands in front of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, whose performances of the music of Sibelius have earned them world-wide recognition.
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